Business as usual? US job surge sees salary downturn
According to data released this month by the National Employment Law Project, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the recession were mid-wage jobs (ranging from $13.84 to $21.13 hourly), while 58 per cent of those created since then were low wage jobs. Currently, 80 percent of jobs being created pay less than $42,000 annually.
In a country where wages – as a percentage of the economy – are at an all-time low, more Americans are now flipping burgers, waiting tables, and stocking shelves.
The hospitality industry, which consists mainly of restaurants and hotels, created 34,000 new jobs in August – more than a third of the total. Retailers added 6,100 jobs last month. Manufacturing however, an area known to typically pay above average wages – cut 15,000 jobs.
“The recovery continues to be skewed toward low-wage jobs, reinforcing the rise in inequality and America’s deficit of good jobs,” Annette Bernhardt, policy co-director at the National Employment Law Project, told the Los Angeles Times. “While there’s understandably a lot of focus on getting employment back to pre-recession levels, the quality of jobs is rapidly emerging as a second front in the struggling recovery.”
The figures come at a time when the number of Americans dependent on the government has reached an all-time high, with more than half of US citizens seeking financial aid from the government.
Household spending has also been reduced by 62 percent in middle class homes over the past year. The average net worth of a middle class family in America dropped from $129,582 in 2001 to $93,150 in 2010, according to the LA Times.
“Since 2000, the middle class has shrunk in size, fallen backward in income and wealth, and shed some – but by no means all – of its characteristic faith in the future,” reported the Pew Research Center in August.
Family hardships are having national ramifications with the U.S slumping down the world ranking from 1st to 12th in terms of GDP per capita.
“The economy has fewer good jobs now than it did at the start of the 21st century,” Bernhardt said.
Recent college graduates too often find themselves moving back home, unable to find jobs to support an independent lifestyle.
“I have applied to so many jobs that I’ve lost track,” 23-year old Megan Baker, who has been unemployed for over a year, told KCAU TV. “I try to tailor my resume and cover letters to each job, but now I am just becoming discouraged and want to give up.”
Recent Virginia Tech graduate, Megan Silsby, told USA TODAY that she has applied to more than 80 jobs, but has had no luck so far.
With most new jobs being low-paying, even college-educated Americans, with thousands of dollars in student loans, may be forced to take jobs they could have gotten without an education.