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Majority of New Jobs Pay Low Wages, Study Finds

New York Times (08/31/12) Catherine Rampell

A new report by the National Employment Law Project, which the New York Times describes as a liberal research and advocacy group, divides 366 occupations tracked by the U.S. Department of Labor into three groups by wage and found that 60% of job losses from early 2008 to early 2010 were in the middle range of wages, or jobs with median hourly wages of $13.84 to $21.13, but these jobs made up only 22% of total job growth since then. Higher-wage jobs with median wages of $21.14 to $54.55 accounted for 19% of job losses during the recession and 20% of job gains during the recovery period. However, low-wage occupations with median wages of $7.69 to $13.83 have made up 58% of job growth in recent years, yet accounted for only 21% of job losses when employment was declining. Although some of these lower-wage jobs are being filled by recent high school and college graduates, they also are being taken by older workers who became unemployed during the recession, many of whom also have taken temporary jobs in retail, home health care, and other industries to make ends meet.