Bias toward low-wage job creation in the US continues
Last Friday (June 6, 2016), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the latest – Employment Situation Summary – May 2016. I analysed that data release in this blog – The US labour market continues to weaken. The message from the data is that while the unemployment fell to 4.7 per cent, employment growth is virtually non-existant and the unemployment rate fell to 4.7 per cent only because the participation rate fell by 0.2 percentage points (in other words, hidden unemployment rose as people dropped out of the labour force). The sharp slowdown now evident in the US labour market has meant that the US Federal Reserve Bank will have to rethink their so-called interest rate normalisation strategy. In the downturn that began in January 2008, there were 8.7 millions jobs lost (up to December 2009) and 86 per cent of them were in sectors that paid above average weekly earnings. Since the recovery began in January 2009, the US labour market has added 14.1 million jobs (in net terms). The question this blog explores is whether these jobs have been predominantly low paid jobs or not. I found that the jobs lost in low-pay sectors in the downturn have more than been offset by jobs added in these sectors in the upturn. However, the massive number of jobs lost in above-average paying sectors have not yet been recovered in the upturn and do not look like being so, given the labour market is slowing again. In other words there is a bias in employment generation towards sectors that on average pay below average weekly earnings.