Wages may be up, but a lot of people who have been laid off are taking new jobs with a pay cut. We get this story from Elliot Vos, from Rochester, New York:
I had only been in the workforce for six months when I lost my job in December (not counting paid internships during college). The company I worked for cut a ton of back office staff to weather the recession. They gave me a decent severance package, and I had too much withheld from my paycheck for taxes, so I was able to retreat back to a "college kid" budget and survive pretty well.
I was unemployed for six months. I had a couple promising interviews, but nothing materialized. Finally, a company I had worked for before on one of my paid internships called me up. They offered me 75 percent of what I had been making, with a loose promise that once their income had straightened out fully, I'd get another $5,000/year. The only problem was that this company was in my parents' town and I didn't want to move back home to that small town. They're graciously letting me telecommute, but I'd much rather work locally in Rochester. I'm still working at my starting salary, too, which is much lower than the average for my profession (actually, their promised increase is still a bit lower than average). So, I'm still looking.
Making all of this worse, my father lost his job the day before me. He eventually changed his career slightly, and found a job in his small city getting about 75 percent of what he was making as well.