January 25, 2002
The labor market began to weaken between late 2000 and the third quarter of 2001. One question that might be asked about the slowdown is this: Were higher paid, highly skilled individuals affected to a greater extent than lower paid, less skilled workers?
Data from the Current Population Survey indicate that, between third-quarter 2000 and third-quarter 2001, net employment declined only among job categories with mid-level earnings, largely reflecting job losses in manufacturing.
Then during the third quarter of 2001, employment also declined substantially in higher paid categories—employment among higher paid workers fell by about half a million.
Employment in the lowest earnings group has generally trended upward in recent years, but has shown no clear trend since the fourth quarter of 2000.
These data are from the Current Population Survey. These findings are based on employment changes of occupation-industry categories that have been subdivided by their relative earnings into highest, middle, and lowest earnings groups. Find out more in "Who was affected as the economy started to slow?" (PDF 85K), Issues in Labor Statistics, BLS Summary 01-05.