Pay cuts now fixed for many in the U.S.

The Times-Tribune - - BUSINESS - BY JOR­DAN YADOO

BLOOMBERG News (tns) Pay cuts in­tro­duced by U.S. em­ploy­ers in the early days of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic — meant to stave off lay­offs and re­tain key em­ploy­ees — have proved less tem­po­rary than per­haps orig­i­nally en­vi­sioned.

The ma­jor­ity of work­ers who took a re­duc­tion as the virus brought the econ­omy to a halt are still earn­ing less than they were prior to the out­break, ac­cord­ing to a Pew Re­search Cen­ter study re­leased Thurs­day, a sign of fragility in the la­bor mar­ket as the re­cov­ery slowly takes shape.

The ex­tent of out­right job losses brought on by ef­forts to con­tain the virus has been well-doc­u­mented: Half of adults who say they lost a job due to the pan­demic re­main un­em­ployed, ac­cord­ing to the study, a find­ing con­sis­tent with gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics show­ing the U.S. has re­gained about half of the 22 mil­lion po­si­tions lost in the early spring.

But shifts in earn­ings and pay struc­ture have been harder to track, with av­er­age hourly wage data skewed higher by the dis­ap­pear­ance of low-paid ser­vice-in­dus­try jobs and with over­all in­come fig­ures in­flated by ex­panded gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits that gave Amer­i­cans a tem­po­rary boost.

Nearly one-third of 13,200 adults sur­veyed in Au­gust by re­searchers say ei­ther they or some­one in their house­hold had to re­duce their hours or ac­cept a pay cut be­cause of the out­break, with 21% say­ing this hap­pened to them per­son­ally. Among that sub­seg­ment of adults, 60% say they are cur­rently earn­ing less than be­fore the out­break, with 34% mak­ing about the same amount of money and 6% earn­ing more than be­fore the spread of the virus.

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