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In St. Louis, High-Wage & Low-Wage Earners Gain Ground Over Middle-Wage Earners

Wage inequality is a hot topic across the country, as municipalities debate whether to increase their minimum wage. In St. Louis, where the state legislature overturned the city’s recent increase to a $10 per hour minimum wage, the debate is particularly timely. In the essay “The Evolution of St. Louis's Wage Distribution,” Becca Cowin and Charles Gascon examined wage inequality in the St. Louis metropolitan statistical area (MSA) using Bureau of Labor Statistics annual Occupational Employment Statistics data. The authors found that wage inequality in St. Louis is below the national average but has increased in recent years, in parallel with the evolution of inequality on the national level.

The authors looked at the top 10%, the middle, and the bottom 10% of wage earners for the St. Louis MSA to identify what’s driving the inequality. The data show that wages in the top 10% have been growing faster than wages in the middle of the distribution, which is primarily responsible for increasing wage inequality overall. In fact, as the top 10% has been pulling away from the middle, the bottom 10% has also been catching up to the middle. 

Read the full essay here.