Where the jobs (and pay) will be

Where will the jobs (and middle-class wages) will be in the next few years for people without four-year college degrees? Retiring baby boomers will open up manufacturing jobs for male high school graduates. Women will need a certificate or associate degree — preferably in a health-care field — to have a shot at earning at least $35,000 a year.

Also on Community College Spotlight: To provide realistic training in restaurant work, a college culinary arts program has opened its own bistro.

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.