The Upjohn Institute New Hires Quality Index shows the earnings power of people starting a new job rose 0.1 percent between February and March, to $18.61. Hiring volume was steady at 4.3 percent above its pre-pandemic level.
In this month's release, Index creator Brad Hershbein explores trends in the index by education level. High school graduates and those with bachelor’s degrees have seen little growth in the wage index over the last two decades, while the index for those with graduate degrees is its highest on record. The earnings power of newly hired workers has risen as workers have become more educated over time, Hershbein writes, not because new opportunities have opened within educational groups.
Hiring volume is up 10.9 percent for high school graduates, 5.5 percent for those with bachelor’s degrees and 2.4 for those with graduate degrees since February 2020. Since last August, hiring volume is down 1-2 percent for those with bachelor’s or graduate degrees but up 5.7 percent for high school graduates.
The recent hiring gains among high school graduates have boosted this group’s earning power a bit, but not enough to reverse long-term patterns. The share of earnings power among all newly hired workers held by high school graduates has fallen from 27 percent to below 23 percent just before the pandemic before bouncing back to 24.5 percent.