The occupations with the fastest growth were retail sales (at a median wage of $10.97 an hour) and food preparation workers ($9.04 an hour). Each category has grown by more than 300,000 workers since June 2009.
Some of these new, lower-paying jobs are being taken by people just entering the labor force, like recent high school and college graduates. Many, though, are being filled by older workers who lost more lucrative jobs in the recession and were forced to take something to scrape by.
Catherine Rampell has a story in the Times this morning about how we’re adding a bunch of new jobs to the American economy, but unfortunately, they’re all low-paid. Job growth for middle- and high-wage jobs have been slow or stagnant.
So, what’s a person to do? Well, if we took anything away from yesterday’s Times Magazine story (“Who Wears the Pants in This Economy?”), it’s that we can go for the lower-paid job for the time-being (whether it’s in food service, or other growing sectors like nursing and education) and then work up to higher-paid ones. That story looked at a traditional, church-going town in Alabama where the men were used to earning most of the money (and having pastors preach to them that the Bible instructs them to be head of households) at the big athletic apparel company that dominated the town. When the company shuttered and the men lost their jobs, their wives took low-paid positions to get the bills paid, and they were subsequently promoted to higher-paid positions. Working your way up—it’s the American way.