A new study finds that low-paying jobs have dominated employment growth in the first year of the recovery, while occupations offering better pay have been far slower to return. The report, by the National Employment Law Project, is the first to examine the recovery’s growth trends specifically by occupation, and it offers the latest sign that jobseekers are encountering a severe deficit of good jobs as they navigate the labor market.
“While it is too early to predict whether these trends will continue, the dominant growth in lower-wage occupations suggests that there is a good jobs deficit that has hollowed out many of the decent work opportunities people are looking for,” said report author
Annette Bernhardt, policy co-director at the National Employment Law Project.
The NELP study analyzes employment trends for 366 detailed occupations, drawing on newly available data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), and ranks their median wages into three groups: lower-wage ($7.51 to $13.52 per hour), mid-wage ($13.53 to $20.66 per hour) and higher-wage ($20.67 to $53.32 per hour).
From the first quarter of 2010 through the first quarter of 2011, the most recent data available, lower-wage occupations grew by 3.2 percent, with retail salespersons, office clerks, cashiers, food preparation workers and stock clerks topping the list. Mid-wage occupations, including paralegals, customer service representatives and machinists, grew by only 1.2 percent, while higher-wage occupations declined by 1.2 percent, which includes occupations like engineers, registered nurses and finance workers.
Even as lower-wage jobs have generated the most growth, the wages they pay have fallen disproportionately – seeing a 2.3-percent decline since the start of the recession. Workers in mid-wage occupations saw more modest declines (-0.9 percent), while workers in higher-wage occupations actually saw slight gains in real wages (+0.9 percent). Overall, wages have fallen 0.6 percent since the start of the recession.
Find NELP’s report on the web here: www.nelp.org/goodjobsdeficit