Are We Becoming The United States Of Crappy Jobs?

America remains one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but the quality of our jobs are in decline. In a reversal of centuries of growth and opportunity, the U.S. has become a Crappy Job Nation. Here's that story in charts.

During the recession, jobs were lost all over the place. But mid-wage occupations (hourly wages from $21.14 to $54.55) were decimated, according to an analysis by the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group. Neither mid-wage nor high-wage positions have returned to their recession levels. But low-wage jobs have soared.

There are now 7.3 percent fewer mid-wage occupations than there were in 2001, compared to 8.7 percent more low-wage ones.

This is what the American workforce looks like at last count, with the median annual wages of the 10 biggest occupations labeled in red. The three largest occupations -- office and administrative support, food preparation and serving, and sales and related -- employ over a third of the workforce, and pay, on average, less than $35,000 a year.

Currently, 28 percent of all workers are in jobs that keep them at or below the poverty line for a family of four ($23,005 in 2011). And this is the way it's going to be for at least another decade, according to an Economic Policy Institute analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Seven percent of Americans who are working have incomes that fall below the federal poverty level -- for one. For part-time workers, that number is 14.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Retail and food service sales are two of the fastest growing low-wage occupations. Their future is looking bright.

Personal care work, like home health aides and personal care aides, is growing at five times the average rate of all occupations. They also earn less than $10 an hour, on average.

Manufacturing (median wage, $24.41 an hour) hasn't been so rosy. We aren't going back to the 1970s anytime soon.

A lot more Americans are also working part-time. Not as many as at the recession's peak mind you, but still way more than pre-recession levels.

Despite this doom and gloom, we're doing better than we were in the '80s and '90s, financially speaking. It's in the past 15 years that we've really taken a beating, with the average income of a working age household (householders under 65) falling from $61,574 a year in 2000 to $55,276 in 2010. We've just been growing and getting richer for so many decades that this slip hurts. Bad.

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Becoming? We're already there!

October 05 2013 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A great article except I think you are being too positive..Look at the real job segments that are increasing..home health care, retail, fast food workers, convenience store workers,restaurant servers, security workers and manufacturing and other lousy jobs that pay either minimum wage ..or up to 12 bucks an hour with no benefits and no hope of ever reaching even lower middle class. In the meantime..good jobs in the middle are gone!!! Of course the top 10% will be fine and the top 1% control 24% of the country's wealth...It's not a good situation..when even teachers and nurses and construction workers affiliated with unions can't get jobs

September 30 2013 at 7:32 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bilhee's comment

Manufacturing should not be regarded as low wage. Some low skill entry level positions don't pay well but by and large if you are skilled the compensation is excellent. In the local labor market where I work there is a severe shortage of welders and machinists. These are roles that pay well over six figures with overtime. The labor market does not supply nearly enough technical talent which leaves the US in the strange position of having high unemployment and large numbers of open positions going unfilled at the same time.

September 30 2013 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For once an HONEST article about the economy. The writer better watch out, she won't have a job next week for telling the truth. Try to find an article like this in the lying lame stream media outlets.

July 23 2013 at 10:58 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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