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.