Study Reveals Plight of Middle-Wage Jobs

Chicago — Oct. 10

Research from the Federal Reserve shows that the share of middle-skill or middle-wage jobs in the U.S. has dropped from 25 percent in 1985 to just above 15 percent today. While middle-wage jobs have been on the decline for a number of years, a new study from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., or EMSI, shows that there are various fields and states where these positions are thriving.

For the purpose of the study, CareerBuilder and EMSI defined middle-wage jobs as those that pay between $13.84 and $21.13 per hour. Data on top occupations and locations for middle-wage jobs was pulled from EMSI’s extensive labor market database of more than 90 national and state employment resources.

One quarter (25 percent) of all new jobs added in the U.S. since 2010 fall in the middle-wage range, trailing the share of both high-wage jobs (29 percent) and low-wage jobs (46 percent). While automation, offshoring and other factors are driving the declining share of middle-wage jobs, a variety of occupations in this segment have performed well post-recession. Most of these occupations typically require on-the-job training, work experience, or short-term certificates and degrees that community colleges specialize in.

Wyoming leads the nation in the percentage of middle-wage jobs added in a state post-recession. Forty-five percent of new jobs that were created in Wyoming since 2010 have been middle-wage, well ahead of other high-performing states: Iowa (37 percent), North Dakota (36 percent) and Michigan (35 percent).

Texas (25 percent) and California (23 percent) have created the largest total number of new middle-wage jobs in the nation, but they’re in the middle of the pack in terms of the share of all new jobs.

At the bottom, Rhode Island is the only state that’s lost middle-wage jobs over the last few years. Meanwhile, Mississippi (10 percent) and New York (13 percent) have the lowest share of new middle-wage jobs among states that have seen job increases.

Source: CareerBuilder