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Workers’ pay in many occupations still catching up

Six years after the recession ended, workers in most occupations in New England have yet to regain the buying power they had before the historic downturn began at the end of 2007.

Weekly earnings last year, in fields from food preparation to management, were below 2007 levels when adjusted for inflation, according to an analysis of Labor Department and Census Bureau data by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Of the 22 occupations tracked by the Labor Department, 17 did not reach prerecession pay levels.

Meanwhile, unemployment rates in most occupations in New England remain above the 2007 levels. Unemployment among construction workers, among the hardest hit in the downturn, was about 10 percent last year, according to the analysis.


Despite the improving economy, the data underscore that many working families have yet to fully recover. Wage growth, unemployment, and the financial condition of households are factors in the debate at the Federal Reserve over when the central bank should begin raising its key short-term interest rate, which has been held near zero since 2008. Many analysts expect Fed policy makers to increase the rate at their September meeting.

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at
Follow her on Twitter @megwoolhouse.