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Recovery Redraws Labor Landscape

Wall Street Journal (02/04/12) Ben Casselman

The jobs report released Feb. 3 reveals that nearly every industry added workers in January, with restaurants, health care, manufacturing, and professional and business services registering the biggest hiring gains. Since mid-2011, around 164,000 health care jobs, 167,000 leisure and hospitality jobs, and 94,000 manufacturing jobs have been added. Over the same period, 109,000 temporary workers were hired. However, the construction and manufacturing industry have yet to recover all of the jobs lost during the recession, and the public sector continues to shed jobs.

Low-wage sectors account for most of the recent increases in hiring, such as nursing aids and technicians in the health care industry and secretaries and temporary workers in the business services industry. Expert say the economic downturn was devastating for low-skilled workers, and the recent gains are making up for jobs lost during the recession. Some economists are concerned that the economy is leaning more toward low-skill, low-wage jobs due to the shift from manufacturing to services.