Yes, the US economy has been adding jobs, and yes, the Obama Administration can take credit for adding them. There’s just one problem: The jobs we’ve created pay less (and are overall worth less) than the jobs that we lost starting in 2008. While the nation is still facing steep unemployment numbers, the new study shows that those who were able to get back to work aren’t much better off than those who haven’t.
A study by liberal activist group the National Employment Law Project shows that the jobs added in the US economy since the 2008 downturn don’t match the pay of those that disappeared. Data shows that roughly 60% of jobs lose between 2008 and 2010 were in the middle third of wages. These were jobs in manufacturing, construction, and information, and they earned between $13.84 and $21.13 and hour. While the economy has indeed added new jobs, over half of them have been lower paying spots in retail and food preparation, according to the New York Times.
This may partially explain why jobs reports continue to show anemic growth alongside the economy, while unemployment steadily drops and new jobs are added to the economy.
“The overarching message here is we don’t just have a jobs deficit; we have a ‘good jobs’ deficit,” said Annette Bernhardt, the report’s author and a policy co-director at the National Employment Law Project.
Only 21% of job losses were lower-wage positions to begin with, and middle-wage spots account for 22% of recent gains, according to the Labor Department. More than 300,000 positions have been added to retail and food prep since 2009, making them fast-growing fields. High-paying positions in fields like engineering and surgery have also been growing quickly.
“This is not just a nice, smooth process,” said Henry Siu, an economics professor at the University of British Columbia, who helped write a recent study about such polarization. “A lot of these jobs were suddenly wiped out during recession and are not coming back.”