Bureau of Business Research



Trends in Nebraska's Wage Distribution

Date of this Version



Business in Nebraska, Volume 71, No. 718, March 2017


Copyright 2016 University of Nebraska.


Wage growth has been a persistent challenge for the United States economy in recent decades (Mishel, 2013). Middle class wage growth has been weak while job polarization has widened the gap in wages between the highest and lowest paying jobs. Many argue that technological change and globalization are the two main economic factors behind these trends (Dietz, 2012). These problems have accelerated in the last decade, with U.S. real median wages in 2015 only slightly higher than wages in 2006.

These trends have also played out in Nebraska over the last decade. In this report, wage trends are examined for the two main metropolitan areas in Nebraska, state of Nebraska, and the nation. This report updates a 2015 report on the same topic coauthored by Brock Thompson and Eric Thompson.

Using national and sub-national data maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we examine whether (1) wages for higher skilled occupations have increased by more than wages for lower skilled occupations, and (2) the real standard of living of workers increased by more than the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).