[Note: I noticed an error in some of the graphs a few minutes after publishing the original post.]
[Update: Everyone should read Kevin Milligan's take using the SLID data. I'll get back to this in another point soon.]
I noted on Econowatch at Maclean's a few weeks ago that average and median real earnings increased over the recession, and the point was surprising enough to me that I decided to dig deeper. I was also inspired by this post that reproduced a couple of fascinating graphs from this paper by David Green and Benjamin Sand plotting real wage changes against wage percentiles. This way of representing data is so good that I can't help but steal it, and that's what I'm going to do here. Their paper stops with the 2006 census, and since the 2011 National Household Survey data are unusable (thanks again, Tony Clement!) so I've decided to work with the public use microdata files from the Labour Force Survey instead. The weekly nominal wage data are constructed by multiplying reported usual weekly hours by the reported usual hourly wage. The real earnings data are the nominal earnings divided by the CPI.