Don’t Write Off the American Middle Class Just Yet

Don’t Write Off the American Middle Class Just Yet

In the US, the “hollowing out” of the middle class has been this generation’s tale of economic woe. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, however, “the tide has begun to turn” and middle-class jobs appear to be making a comeback. Andrew Soergel has the story at US News and World Report:

[New York Fed president and CEO William] Dudley doesn’t deny that a prolonged hollowing out of the middle class was evident in the U.S. labor market, suggesting that “growth of middle wage jobs has been lackluster for the past few decades, with gains occurring disproportionately in higher and lower wage sectors.” Even in recent years, Dudley and his colleagues found that more than 78 percent of the jobs added to the labor market between 2010 and 2013 were concentrated in high-wage – with annual pay north of $60,000 – and low-wage – with annual pay south of $30,000 – positions.

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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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