Job Gains Concentrated in Low-Wage Industries

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Written by John Schmitt   
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 15:30

The economy lost more than eight million jobs during the Great Recession. Last year, it recovered just over one million of those lost jobs. But, a new report from the National Employment Law Project demonstrates that the new jobs were heavily concentrated in low-wage industries such as retail, restaurants, and temp agencies.

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As the NELP figure above shows, about 3.5 million of the jobs lost in the downturn were in high-wage industries, but fewer than 200,000 of the jobs created in the last year were in those same industries. Over half of the jobs created since the economy bottomed out were in the lowest-paying industries.

As the report's author, Annette Bernhardt, says: "[T]he job opportunities currently available to workers have deteriorated compared to what was available before the recession." The NELP data flatly contradict the idea that the economy is currently facing a structural "mismatch" where workers don't have the skills that employers are demanding. The recession-related job losses were concentrated in high-wage industries and the new jobs have been in low-wage industries, leaving millions of workers from middle- and high-wage industries high and dry.