The Roots of the Arab Spring   /   Fall 2011   /    Short Takes

The Hour-Glass Economy

A   r ec ent  da ta  brief  fr om  the  n a tional Employment  Law   Project (nELP)  shows that the  Great Recession has sharply exacerbated this ongoing realignment. Tracking employment trends by occupation, nELP  finds that  during the  recession, 60  percent  of   the job   losses occurred among mid-wage occupations. Since the recession officially ended, jobs added  have been overwhelmingly  in  low-wage  occupations. Mid-wage jobs have seen few gains, and high- wage jobs keep falling. The net result since 2008 has been virtually no loss of low-wage jobs (down just 0.3 percent) but a 4.1  percent loss of  high- wage positions and a further 8.4  percent erosion of  employment in the mid-wage occupations.

The widely discussed  “jobs crisis,” then, is not just about recession-induced unemployment but also about the dearth of  “good  jobs” and the progressive hollowing out of  the middle class. What we have is  a deeper,  structural  problem, bringing ever-growing inequality in its  wake.

To read the full article online, please login to your account or subscribe to our digital edition ($25 yearly). Prefer print? Order back issues or subscribe to our print edition ($30 yearly).