61% of New Jobs were in Low-Paying Sectors

by Bud Meyers , published February 21, 2015

St. Louis Fed (PDF): “Since June 2009, private-sector employment has increased by about 10 million, more than offsetting the decline that occurred during the recession. However, unlike in the recession, the majority of job gains were in the low-paying industries. Of the 10 million increase in private nonfarm jobs during the current expansion, about 61 percent, 6.1 million, were in low-paying industries … In particular, job growth in the retail trade, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality industries was responsible for almost half of total job growth during the recovery.”

Chart of the Week: Growth in Real Average Income for the Bottom 90%

New York Times: “Employees are literally losing sleep as restaurants, retailers and many other businesses shrink the intervals between shifts and rely on smaller, leaner staffs to shave costs. These scheduling practices can take a toll on employees who have to squeeze commuting, family duties and sleep into fewer hours between shifts.”

New York Times: “The average hourly wage of all private-sector workers is still a meager 22 cents — or 0.9 percent — higher than it was in January 2009, adjusted for inflation … but the main reason for the increase is not a rise in wages but a fall in inflation — the sharp drop in oil prices, which has caused inflation to drop to virtually zero. Nominal wages themselves, the numbers that workers see in their paychecks, have accelerated only slightly.”

Atlanta Fed: “None of the characteristic-specific median growth rates we looked at are close to returning to prerecession levels. Lower-than-normal wage growth appears to be a very widespread feature of the labor market since the end of the recession.”

Economic Policy Institute: “This week was a milestone for [Outsourcer-and-Chief and tax dodger] Apple. As its stock continues to rise, its market cap exceeded $700 billion—the largest valuation ever achieved by any U.S. company … [but] … The failure of Apple to respond to the consistent criticisms that we and others have advanced is one more indication that the milestone achieved by Apple this week, as the company with the highest market valuation ever, contrasts sharply with the harsh, and often illegal, working conditions and low pay still commonly faced by workers in its supply chain.”

Economic Policy Institute: “One of the president’s core, frequently repeated arguments for these trade and investment deals [like TPP] is that ‘our businesses export more than ever, and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages.’ But that’s less than half the story. Trade is a two-way street, and talking about exports without considering imports is like keeping score in a baseball game by counting only the runs scored by the home team. It might make you feel good, but it won’t tell you who’s winning the game. Sadly, when it comes to trade and wages, trade is driving down the average wages of American workers because the United States runs large trade deficits with the world as a whole, including many countries in Asia and Europe—the regions targeted in current trade negotiations.”