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  • Smart Brevity™ count: 364 words ... 1½ mins.

1 big thing: Biggest gains for lowest earners

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The lowest earners saw the biggest wage gains in 2022, according to Labor Department data.

  • "Gains for low-income and low-skilled workers drove broader wage growth throughout the post-reopening period of the pandemic, as employers who shed workers in 2020 scrambled to hire, and retain, workers," The Wall Street Journal's Gabriel T. Rubin writes.
  • Restaurants and stores desperately needed employees to meet the surge in demand as the world opened back up, and workers had the power.

Why it matters: These increases have brought financial relief to millions who've struggled in the labor market for decades, Aaron Sojourner, an economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, told The Journal.

  • Worth noting: Black workers and younger workers, who have historically seen smaller wage gains, saw some of the biggest increases in 2022, with jumps of 11.3% and just over 10%, respectively.

What to watch: "It's too soon to tell" whether these gains low-income workers have made will last as the economy normalizes after the turbulence of the pandemic, Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed, tells Axios.

🗺️ Maps galore!

We've been delighted by the hundreds of emails you've sent with pictures of your favorite maps and stories about how you've used them.

  • We'll relay these to you in the coming weeks!

Let's start with this tale via reader Juliet L. from Chico, California:

  • "A couple of years ago, I was in a shopping center parking lot and noticed two early-college-age women who appeared to be in some distress. Apparently, they were new in this college town, and they were lost. The phone they had with them had died. So I asked if I could help."
  • "Rather than give the flustered pair verbal directions, I pulled out my paper map of the town and showed them how to reach their destination. They stared at the map as if I had just invented the wheel. ... I gave it to them, and they went back to their car as if they were carrying a remarkable treasure. And I'm inclined to think they were."

Keep your pictures and tales coming!

Thanks to Elizabeth Black for the copy edit!