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Teamsters: Report Shows New Jobs Are Overwhelmingly Paying Peanuts


A lot of words have been written in the past year about how the reduction in the unemployment rate is being fueled by low-wage jobs. Now a new report verifies just how tough it is for the unemployed to find work that can support a middle-class lifestyle.

The National Employment Law Project study shows the recovery is being led by poor-paying employment, far above the rate which those jobs were lost during the last recession. In fact, while lower-wage industries accounted for 22 percent of the job losses during the Great Recession, they have created 44 percent of the nation’s new jobs over the past four years.

For comparison sake, the documents shows that mid-wage industries accounted for 37 percent of the job losses during the last economic downturn but only 26 percent of employment growth. And high-wage industries shed 41 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, but only 30 percent of new job creation.

“Private sector employment has finally reached prerecession levels, but … job losses and gains are unevenly distributed across industries,” the report states.  “Previously, we found that mid- and higher-wage industries absorbed significant job losses during the downturn and that early job gains were concentrated in lower-wage industries.

“Several official revisions to the underlying employment data did not materially alter our findings about job loss patterns, and net job growth remains concentrated in lower-wage industries where employment now exceeds prerecession levels by 1.85 million,” the document explains. “Today, there are nearly two million fewer jobs in mid- and higher-wage industries than there were before the recession took hold.”

Those 1.85 million more workers are toiling at jobs making less than $13.33 an hour, the report states. Meanwhile, there are 958,000 fewer jobs in this country that pay between $13.73 and $20 an hour. And there are 976,000 fewer jobs paying between $20.03 and $32.62 dollars an hour.

The effect from the shift in employment pay is palpable. New statistics show that 46 percent of New York City residents are making less than 150 percent of the city’s poverty threshold and are a barely scraping by. Even with the reduction in unemployment that has occurred in recent years, eight percent of working adults are in poverty and 17 percent of families with a full-time employee under their roof still lived in poverty under the city’s definition.

Hard-working Americans are paying the price of poor policy decisions made by elected officials. Whether it is supporting job-killing trade deals like NAFTA or the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or allowing billionaire corporate masters of the universe like the Koch Brothers to push its agenda through the anti-worker American Legislative Exchange Council and other groups, lawmakers should be learning a lesson. A big business-first agenda does not help regular people – only corporate America.