Low-wage jobs are growing while middle-class occupations suffer
Most of the middle-class jobs lost in the recession aren’t coming back during the recovery.
The majority of new positions are being created by low-wage employers like fast-food restaurants and retail stores.
At least that’s the results of a recent study by the National Employment Law Project, which advocates employment rights for low-wage workers.
The study examined trends in 366 detailed occupations by splitting workers into equal groups — low, middle and high income.
The law project found that:
- Mid-wage occupations — defined as those paying $13.84 to $21.13 an hour — accounted for an astonishing 60% of all job losses during the recession but have made up 22% of the job growth during the recovery.
- Low-wage occupations — those paying $7.69 to $13.83 an hour — constituted 21% of losses and an eye-popping 58% of growth during the recession.
- High-wage occupations — those paying $21.14 to $54.55 an hour — made up 19% of losses and 20% of growth during the recovery.
This information confirms what most Americans know firsthand: the middle class is being hollowed out, and the number of "good" jobs has drastically decreased.
"The recovery continues to be skewed toward low-wage jobs, reinforcing the rise in inequality and America's deficit of good jobs," says Annette Bernhardt, study author and policy co-director at the National Employment Law Project.
Technology, the outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries, the housing bust’s devastating impact on construction jobs and failures in public policy are all cited by the study as contributing to rising income inequality, which means there may be a structural component to the unemployment problem.
The purchasing power of workers earning the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is 30% lower than it was in 1968.
So, despite strong productivity growth over the last 30 years, most workers have not seen their hard work translate to their paychecks, notes Bernhardt.
"Indeed, it's important to recognize that the U.S. labor market was already in trouble before the Great Recession, the result of 30 years of growing wage inequality and shrinking numbers of good jobs," Bernhardt says.
You can see the press release from the study here:
Or read the full study here: