Service jobs

Employment in the service sector has been a growing part of our economy for several decades, but many people hold the impression that most service jobs are low paying. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden considers whether this belief is accurate.

“Well, service jobs … include everything other than jobs in manufacturing, construction, agriculture and natural resources. And we have dramatically seen an increase in the percentage of service jobs, as well as the number of service jobs, over recent decades. And certainly service jobs are now a majority of all jobs.

“But I do think it is a mistake — and the data show this — to say that all service jobs are low-paying. In fact, high-paying service jobs — and these would be jobs like in the professions, managerial jobs, many technical jobs, et cetera – higher-paying service jobs have actually been increasing faster over recent decades than lower-paying service jobs.

“So, I think it is a mistake to say that all service jobs are low-paying. And, of course, the distinction between a high-paying service job and a low-paying service job primarily rests on the amount of education that you need to do that job.”

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