Even as they slashed jobs during the recession, employers generally refrained from cutting pay for their remaining workers. Economists say that isn't surprising: Employers tend not to cut pay for workers who survive a round of layoffs to avoid further demoralizing a staff.

But that doesn't mean employers didn't want to lower pay during the recession, given their falling revenue and profits. So to offset the cost of leaving wages untouched, many employers have withheld raises as the economy has improved. Economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch have calculated that the share of workers whose wages didn't budge -- up or down -- rose sharply during the recession and still hasn't returned to healthy levels.

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