March 6, 2011 in Business

High-wage industries trailing on new jobs

Ruth Mantell MarketWatch

WASHINGTON — Higher-wage industries have been lagging when it comes to private job creation, according to a new report from a worker advocacy group.

Higher-wage industries constitute 14 percent of recent private-job growth, though they accounted for 40 percent of private job losses during the labor-market’s downturn, according to the report from the New York-based National Employment Law Project. Meanwhile, lower-wage industries are responsible for 49 percent of recent growth, compared with 23 percent of losses, while midrange-wage industries constitute 37 percent of growth, compared with 36 percent of losses.

“These findings do suggest that for unemployed workers, as well as for those seeking to move up in the labor market or entering it for the first time, the current distribution of job opportunities has deteriorated, compared to before the recession,” according to the report.

During the labor market’s downturn — the economy started losing private jobs in early 2008 and growth resumed in early 2010 — almost 9 million positions disappeared. While the economy has gained more than 1 million private jobs in the 12 months through January, the gains have been skewed toward mid- and lower-wage industries, according to NELP.

“The bottom-heavy growth in industries like temporary employment services, restaurants, retail, and nursing and residential care facilities, which pay median wages below $13 an hour, suggests that workers are not only encountering fewer job opportunities — they may also be seeing fewer well-paying jobs than before the recession,” according to NELP.

For higher-paying industries, median wages range from about $19 to $31, compared with $13 to $19 for mid-wage industries, and $9 to $13 for lower-wage industries, according to NELP. Examples of a few higher-paying industries are professional, scientific and technical services, as well as management of companies and enterprises. Examples of lower-paying industries are social assistance and food services.

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