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Citizens for Limited Taxation

Pay drop in Massachusetts worst in nation
Associated Press Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Wages are dropping in Massachusetts at a rate greater than anywhere else in the country, according to a Northeastern University study, and the situation is not expected to improve in the near future.

"This is a reversal of what things were like during the (1995-2000) boom," said Andrew Sum, the study's lead author.  "Here's a state that went from ranking second or third in real wage growth, and now we're last."

According to the study by NU's Center for Labor Market Studies which was released Tuesday, the average Bay State worker made $47 a week less in the first three quarters of last year, compared with two years earlier, while workers nationwide averaged $8 less.

In the 1995-2000 period, the average weekly earnings of private-sector employees rose 21 percent.  Because of that growth, wages in Massachusetts are still higher than in the rest of the country.

On average, a worker in the Bay State made $855 a week during the first three quarters of last year, compared with $690 nationwide.

Between 1991 and 2000, Massachusetts' annual average unemployment rate dropped to a record low 2.6 percent from 9.1 percent. Since January 2001, Sum said, the number of jobs has dropped steadily.

Although job losses in Massachusetts have been held to 5 percent, compared with 10 percent during the last downturn which ended in 1991, by last month, the number of jobs in the Bay State had dropped to 3.2 million from almost 3.4 million two years ago.

The caseload for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families jumped 12 percent to 48,550 in February, compared with six months earlier, Sum said.

"The problem is our job losses, rather than moderating, have continued to pile up," Sum told the Boston Herald.  "It's hard to believe real wages won't go down further."

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