Home > The Economy > The road to inequality is paved with low-paying jobs (2 charts)

The road to inequality is paved with low-paying jobs (2 charts)

from David Ruccio

The current economic recovery, such as it is, is actually exacerbating the problem of inequality.

One side of that problem is the growth of corporate profits, and consequently the rise in the stock market and high-tend salaries. The other side is the growth of low-paying jobs.

New research by the National Employment Law Project [pdf] shows that, during the recession, employment losses occurred throughout the economy, but were concentrated in mid-wage occupations. By contrast, during the so-called recovery, employment gains have been concentrated in lower-wage occupations, which grew 2.7 times as fast as mid-wage and higher-wage occupations.  

The lower-wage occupations that grew the most during the recovery include retail salespersons, food preparation workers, laborers and freight workers, waiters and waitresses, personal and home care aides, and office clerks and customer representatives.

At this rate, we’re going to come out of the Second Great Depression with an even more unequal distribution of income in the United States than we went in with. And that’s saying a lot!

  1. October 4, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    While the great economic crisis 1929-32 assured a greater equality, the recent one resultes to the opposite. The explanation is, most probably that keynesian policy was present at the end of the second World War but now it is the most fanatic aspect of neo liberal theory.

  2. Mike Meeropol
    October 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    It’s even worse than that. The Bush-Obama rescue plan for the economy protected the banks whereas the Roosevelt-Eccles plan for the financial sector hog-tied the banks. Income became more equal during the Great Depression because businesses were allowed to fail and workers and farmers’ incomes had floors under them. One interesting fact about the decade of the 1930s is that median real wages rose because prices fell more than wages. The very things that lead right-wingers like Amity Shales to argue that Roosevelt’s policies prolonged the depression (unions, minimum wages, social security) formed the basis of the shared prosperity from World War II through the middle 1970s.

    Despite noises that he (Obama) would not be a re-run of Clintonomics during the primary campaign (which unfortunately led people like me to support him versus Hilary Clinton), his appointments of Geithner and Summers virtually guaranteed the policies that we see before us.

    I know that electing Romney with a Republican House and Senate would lead to terrible Supreme Court appointments and a move to voucherize Medicare but part of me wonders if it would be so much worse than another four years like the last four.

  3. cacciato69
    October 4, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    right wing advocates of the Shales ilk get away with ideologic ex post facto arguments that ought to be punishable under the law of strict rhetorical gobble-d-gook

  4. October 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Excellent post. The much ballyhooed September employment figures largely neglected to point out that in the 144,000 gain, 126,000 emanated from the fast-food restaurant sector. Those minimum-wage jobs will certainly get this economy-on-life-support moving again.

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