Job growth is in low-wage, low-skill fields

The recovery isn’t jobless, a new report finds. However, most new jobs are in lower-wage, lower-skill occupations such as cashier, shelf stocker or food preparation worker, according to The Good Jobs Deficit (pdf), a National Employment Law Project report. Sixty percent of jobs lost in the recession were in middle-wage occupations, while 73 percent of jobs added pay less than $13.52 an hour. That explains all those college-educated bartenders.

Net change in occupational employment during and after the Great Recession.
Source: National Employment Law Project analysis of Current Population Survey

The number of lower-wage jobs is close to the pre-recession peak, while mid-wage jobs are 8.4 percent below the peak and higher-wage jobs are 4.1 percent below their former peak.

The lowest third of the nation’s occupations pay $7.51 to $13.52 an hour, according to the report. That would equal $15,621 to $28,122 a year for a full-time worker. In the middle third, workers earn $13.53 to $20.66 an hour or $28,142 to $42,973 a year. High-wage occupations in the top third range from $20.67 to $53.32 an hour or $42,994 to $110,906 for yearly full-time work.

Real wages are down 0.6 percent since the recession’s start, the report concludes: Median wages fell 2.3 percent for the bottom third and 0.9 percent for the middle third. Wages rose by 0.9 percent for workers in the top third.


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  1. I believe it. A friend working in the financial services industry who got laid off was in discussions for several positions that were paying 1/2 to 2/3 what he was making in his last position. He finally got an offer for one paying 3/4 plus the possibility of a bonus. Fortunately, he had gone conservative on his mortgage so the paycut just means he stopped making extra principal payments (he had been trying to get the house paid off by the time his oldest child entered college to free up cash for their tuition).