Report: Job creation at low end of wage scale

By Alejandra Cancino
Posted Feb. 23 at 12:52 p.m.

About 86 percent of the more than 1.3 million jobs created in the last year have been in industries that pay wages below $19 per hour, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Employment Law Project, a policy advocacy group.

The report says there is an “striking imbalance” between the jobs lost in the recession and the jobs created in the last 12 months.  For instance, 40 percent of the jobs lost paid $19 to $32 an hour,  but only 14 percent of the jobs created were in this category.

The bulk of the jobs created were in low and mid-wage industries, such as retail, restaurants and health care. Of those, about 49 percent were in industries that pay less than $12.91 an hour.

“That signals an imbalance that if it continues it could really hurt the average American worker,” said Annette Bernhardt, author of the report.

The concern is that if jobs grow only  in low-wage, low-benefits industries with few opportunities for upper mobility and promotion, it would be harder for workers to build a career and support a family, Bernhardt said.

However, Bernhardt underlined that it is too early in the recovery to predict whether these trends will continue.

The jobs created in the last year amount to just 14 percent of the more than 8.84 million jobs lost. There are still 13.9 million unemployed workers across the country and more than 620,000 in Illinois.

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