Job Growth at the Top and Bottom, but not in the Middle

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

If you want a low-income job, there’s plenty out there. If you’re highly skilled and seeking lucrative employment, there’s that, too. But if you fall in the middle, be it middle income jobs or just the middle class in general, well, the news is not good.


A new report (pdf) from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says job creation overall is back to where it was before the Great Recession. But not all types of jobs have returned, at least not in the numbers that existed prior to the economy tanking.


The U.S. lost a bevy of middle-class employment opportunities from 2008 to 2010, particularly construction, teaching and clerical positions, according to the study. Many of these jobs have not returned, thanks to a sluggish housing market and cutbacks in government budgets (which impact public school hiring).


Instead, the job growth can be found at the top and bottom ends.


There are high-skill positions in engineering, medicine, Wall Street and high tech, and plenty of low-skills, low-wage jobs in fast food, retail and child care.


Employment at the bottom provides salaries ranging from $9.48 to $13.33 an hour. These jobs accounted for 22% of the losses during the recession, but now make up 44% of those during recovery.


That’s not the case with high-wage industries, which accounted for 41% of the losses at the end of the last decade but have only made up 30% of the gains in recent years.


These statistics reflect an erosion of the middle class itself over the past four decades, reports Bryce Covert of ThinkProgress. He notes that the middle class shrunk from 61% in 1971 to 51% in 2011, and that today there are 700,000 fewer middle-income households than there were at the onset of the economic crisis of six years ago.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

The Recession Blew A Hole In Middle-Class Jobs (by Bryce Covert, Think Progress)

Latest Jobs and Housing Reports Show Americans are Struggling More than Ever (by Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet)

Just Released: What Kinds of Jobs Have Been Created during the Recovery? (by Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz, Federal Reserve of New York)

Regional Economic Press Briefing (Federal Reserve of New York) (pdf)

The So-Called Economic Recovery has Meant Replacing Good Jobs with Lower-Wage Ones (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

25 Million Americans Earn Less than Obama’s Proposed Increased Minimum Wage (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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