The past 10 years represent a lost decade for many workers, thanks to stagnant and evening declining real wages.
Not all industries are hurting to the same degree, however. A majority of the 22 major occupation groups tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics witnessed declines in their annual average pay between 2004 through 2014, according to an analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Some of the declines were quite sharp, while other occupations saw just a moderate slip in annual income, which nevertheless can feel painful to workers given a rising cost of living. Only eight occupations benefited from wage increases during the past decade.
Stagnant and declining pay has been a hallmark of the post-recession years, leaving economists to puzzle over the causes. Higher-income workers have seen boosts to their paychecks, but the vast majority of Americans say their family's income is falling behind the cost of living, especially as the costs for services such as health care rise faster than inflation.
"Measuring from the end of the Great Recession, real wages have barely risen -- real compensation per hour has risen only by 0.5 percent, much less than at this point in past recoveries," wrote the bank's senior research economist Filippo Occhino and research analyst Timothy Stehulak in a recent publication.
One reason for the stagnant pay could be a shift in the composition of hours and jobs, with lower-paid work proliferating, lowering the country's average wage. But such a shift was small, the researchers point out.
Longer-term economic changes may be more to blame, such as a slowdown in labor productivity and the advancement of technology to produce goods and services, which has caused labor's share of income to decline at a faster rate since 2000, they added.
Regardless, American workers are feeling the pain when they sit down to pay their bills. For workers in the hardest-hit occupations, juggling their finances may be harder than ever.
On the other hand, some occupational groups have come out of the last decade with higher wages. The best performing field is health care practitioners and technical workers, who are making 5.8 percent more than in 2004, with average annual pay of $76,010 in 2014. Other groups that saw increases include architects and engineers, management, business and financial operations, and computer and mathematical professions.
Read on to find out the nine industries with the biggest declines in pay during the past decade.