I got a Nikon D7000 this summer after using a D50 for six years. I continued to shoot jpegs with the D7000 until this week. I picked up a copy of the December 2011 Digital Photo magazine with an article on starting to use raw format, so I went out did some shooting in the mode that records a RAW file and a jpeg. I thought the skies look particularly interesting, and I took some shots of local landscapes with lots of sky. Many of the shots had blown out skies with none of the clouds visible. He is the best of the shots of the sky that I got with jpegs. I applied no processing beyond what the camera did.
A shot that had a problem with blown out highlights in the sky is shown below. I processed both the jpeg and the RAW format in Adobe Lightroom 3. The jpeg seemed to get the most detail back at recovery of 30. Cranking up to recovery to 100 did add not any more detail.
Using Lightroom 3 was able to recover the clouds in the RAW format shots. Both shots below were adjusted by about the same amount. Setting recovery to 30 brought all of the clouds back in the raw format.
So far I have been able to turn a bad shot into an average shot, but there still seems to be a real advantage even for an amateur like me to shoot RAW.