Middle-Class Job Opportunities Shrink As the Skills Gap Grows

Middle-Class Job Opportunities Shrink As the Skills Gap Grows

American politicians like to talk about the threat of the “disappearing middle class”—and if a new CareerBuilder study is correct, they are right:

The U.S. economy is expected to add 7,232,517 jobs over the next five years — a 5 percent increase — but a new study from CareerBuilder and Emsi shows that workers in middle-wage jobs may not find as many opportunities. High-wage and low-wage occupations are each projected to grow 5 percent from 2016 to 2021, but middle-wage jobs are only estimated to grow 3 percent. At the same time, 61 percent of the 173 occupations expected to lose jobs over the next five years are in the middle-wage category. …

For the purpose of this study, CareerBuilder and Emsi defined low-wage jobs as those that pay $13.83 per hour and below; middle-wage jobs earn $13.84 – $21.13 per hour; and high-wage occupations make $21.14 per hour and higher.

The study zooms in on a number of high-, middle-, and low-wage occupations in which employment is likely to increase or decrease the most by 2021. Among the biggest losers are low-wage workers like door-to-door salespeople, street vendors, and sewing machine operators, but other low-wage jobs like home health aides and restaurant cooks are expected to grow. Among the middle-wage occupations CareerBuilder expects to shrink the most are printing press operators, farmers, and ranchers.

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