Where the jobs are

We’re now in the sixth year of the recovery from the recession, and in the nation as well as many states, total jobs are now back to pre-recession levels. What kinds of jobs have been created in terms of high, middle and low pay? NC State University economist Mike Walden answers.

“Well, what we have seen is a continuation of a trend that we saw before the recession — that is to say that we see jobs growing at the upper-pay end, we see jobs growing at the lower-pay end but not much growth in the middle.

“Specifically if you look at since the recession, 1 million more upper-paying jobs have been created in the country; 800,000 lower-paying jobs have been created in the country; but we still have fewer middle-paying jobs now than we did prior to the recession. So the middle class, the middle-paying jobs, are shrinking relative to the job market.

“And this has a lot to do, I think, with technology. There are many middle paying jobs — for example, factory jobs — where the tasks lend themselves to being taken over by machines and technology, and we are seeing that move into sales, for example.

“And so this is an issue we are going to contend with for a long time and that is the spread of technology to many occupations, therefore rendering people doing those occupations useless. And this has been happening to those middle-paying jobs, and I think is largely responsible for the shrinking size of the middle class.”