Jobs were not just destroyed during the Great Recession – some were created too, in the endless churn of labor that characterizes the American economy. As young workers and laid-off employees alike struggle back to work, though, many are finding that they must settle for lower pay and prestige in their new positions, reports the New York Times.
A large number of well-paid construction and manufacturing jobs have been eliminated, replaced with jobs in the service industry and administrative work. The fastest-growing job category, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study cited by the Times, was "Administrative, support, waste management and remedial services" with a median hourly wage of $12.76.
This category has added 208,000 positions since December 2009. Construction, with a median wage of $19.24, has shed 123,000 positions, while finance and insurance jobs have declined by 54,000.
People in top managerial jobs are doing well, and opportunities, such as they are, remain open on the bottom of the heap. It’s the "broad middle" that’s taken the hardest hit – what David Autor, the labor economist who compiled the MIT study, called "middle-skill, middle-wage" positions.
Chelsea Nelson, a former secretary who now makes a bit more than minimum wage working as a waitress at an Arkansas truck stop, told the Times reporter "I don’t know, with the jobs we have, if we’re ever going to be able to make it on our own."