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We regularly see news stories indicating that the US employment market is recovering from the impact of the great recession. After 5 1/2 years of sluggish growth total employment has finally reached the pre-recession level. However, it will come as no surprise to people who have been struggling to find employment that the available jobs are not where they used to be. New college graduates who have accumulated a mountain of student loan debt in hopes of improving their employment prospects, frequently find themselves worse off for the effort.

A new report from the National Employment Law Project provides some hard data to confirm what many people have suspected was true. Here is what the "recovery" actually looks like.

The new employment "opportunities" are concentrated in the fast food industry.
We find that during the labor market downturn (measured from January 2008 to February 2010), employment losses occurred throughout the economy, but were concentrated in mid-wage and higher-wage industries. By contrast, during the recovery (measured from February 2010 to February 2014), employment gains have been concentrated in lower-wage industries. Specifically:

Lower-wage industries constituted 22 percent of recession losses, but 44 percent of recovery growth.

Mid-wage industries constituted 37 percent of recession losses, but only 26 percent of recovery growth.

Higher-wage industries constituted 41 percent of recession losses, and 30 percent of recovery growth.

Today, there are nearly two million fewer jobs in mid-and higher-wage industries than there were before the recession took hold, while there are 1.85 million more jobs in lower-wage industries.

There is nothing about this trend that is unique to the worst economic crash since the great recession. Looking back to the period of post WW II prosperity we can see a pattern of the cumulative impact on employment that recessions have had. In the 1950s recessions predominately affected blue collar workers. Manufacturing and construction workers got laid off. People with the respectable white collar jobs mostly continued working. Beginning with the 1970s this pattern began to change.

The good paying manufacturing union jobs that had given some blue collar workers entry into the middle class began to disappear as industry was shifted to low wage economies. There was a lag in the impact on white collar employment, but in the recession of the early 1990s US business discovered the buzz word down sizing and began to eliminate white collar and middle management jobs with a vengeance. When many of the people who had been the victims of down sizing eventually found new employment they were employed on temporary or contract status without benefits and even a pretense of job security.

Thus we find that the worst recession in 75 years has created the greatest shifts in the nature of employment. There really are no trends on the horizon that offer hope of a shift back toward middle class prosperity. We are steadily becoming a more economically polarized society.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  All because it is (4+ / 0-)

    bipartisan Congressional and legislative policy that these jobs not come back.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 09:07:26 AM PDT

    •  WH policy, too (4+ / 0-)

      The South Korean trade agreement is currently eviscerating the US steel industry.

      TPP will kill off even more.

      Obama's own "Jobs Czar", Jeff Immelt of General Electric presided over massive offshoring and outsourcing programs by his own corporation and others.


      I refuse to accept the meme that the jobs aren't coming back.  They will, they have to.  The US cannot survive long by making its economy completely dependent on foreign countries.

      Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 09:15:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And what will happen if they don't come back? (0+ / 0-)

        Do you seriously expect the well indoctrinated US middle class to take to the streets?  

        •  It gets easier when you can't keep the lights on. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Betty Pinson, TracieLynn

          When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

          by Alexandra Lynch on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 10:41:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Millenials will stand up to both parties (0+ / 0-)

          They're the ones most affected by the destruction of our economy.  I see a Third Party in their future.

          Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

          by Betty Pinson on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 11:47:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You mean like they did in the (0+ / 0-)

            occupy camping gigs?

            •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

              There's a lot of organizing going on out there.

              Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

              by Betty Pinson on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 03:11:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Those were very helpful clarifications... (0+ / 0-)

              weren't they?

              We found out for certain that the First and Fourth Amendments no longer apply in a Democratic administration either.  Nor with "progressive" mayors in cities like Atlanta or even Seattle.

              Those camping gigs showed that it was possible to excite roughly similar proportions of people no matter where in the country you went, get non-partisan material support for a message critical of Wall Street and face the same shutdown by the city fathers regardless of the politics of the mayor and council.

              And the same dishonest treatment from the local media after the national media had notified their affiliates of the corporate stand.

              We also found out that alliances with labor terrify the shit out of the local establishments.  Especially in New York and Chicago.

              And it started in Madison, remember?  Long before Occupy occupied.

              50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

              by TarheelDem on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 01:11:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  This is how empires die. They eat themselves. n/t (4+ / 0-)

    Rivers are horses and kayaks are their saddles

    by River Rover on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 09:09:31 AM PDT

  •  We need a deflationary policy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon

    that helps increase the purchasing power of the dollar, and will also help with the increase in wages.

    •  ? what's a "deflationary policy"? (0+ / 0-)
    •  Like During the Last Great Deflation? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      All anyone needs to know about how long-term deflation works for the average working person is to look at what happened in the US during the period 1870-1905.  Deflation killed the working person.  Increasing the purchasing power of the dollar means nothing to the average working person and will not increase wages.  William Jennings Bryan didn't give that "cross of gold" speech for nothing - he wanted cheap silver to reflate the economy which was strangling on dear gold.  Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer learned the same thing when he tried to resurrect the strong pound sterling policy post WW1.  It killed the British economy, which didn't revive until Britain abandoned the gold standard in the early thirties.  BTW, the last major power to leave the gold standard was France, which found that its strong franc policy hindered its rearmament efforts seriously by two years, just enough time for them to get overrun by the Germans.  Sorry, but a deliberate deflationary policy is ludicrous.

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 02:06:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  As my Grandfather used to say (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Lyon, akze29, katiec

      During the Depression, a hamburger only cost a nickel - but you didn't have a nickel.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 02:28:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Personal computer took a lot (4+ / 0-)

    email ate a LOT of jobs.....not high-paying jobs, but decent enough for a second job as an admin assistant, or secretary as we called it in the old days.  Management writes and send their own stuff nowadays.

    In the 1980's, I heard more people than I can count bemoan the "middle man" we began to get rid of him.  Direct purchasing once the internet was established.

    And I still remember the push for "contract work" in the 1980's......."make your own schedule!"  "work only when you want!"  "no bossman breathing down your neck!"

    And once techies made it a fucking badge of honor to work all night, it became expected.

    I have so little sympathy for the workers who fell for all that shit.  They are in their 50's now and struggling.  I hope they have the good sense to reverse some of that for their kids through their voting and spending habits.

    Listening to the NRA on school safety is like listening to the tobacco companies on cigarette safety. (h/t nightsweat)

    by PsychoSavannah on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 09:14:50 AM PDT

    •  That is just the beginning of what automation (8+ / 0-)

      is doing to employment. The robots are coming.

    •  PCs took out a lot more than admin assistants (6+ / 0-)

      My career is in financial planning - and "productivity" is probably 5x what it was when I started 40 years ago - that is, I can do now what used to take 5+ people to do, thanks to PC tools.

      Jobs that have been lost:
      admin assistants, as you noted
      email and calendar management
      filing & records management
      data entry
      financial analysis
      presentation preparation
      entry level management
      report preparation
      systems & programming
      technical data analysis & statistics
      accounting analysts / "bookkeepers"

      And we travel much less - so there go travel offices & support, as well as the hotels & restaurants we used to use

      And I'm sure there are many, many more in almost every white collar career path.

      Gone the way of buggy whips & carbon paper.

    •  That is true (4+ / 0-)

      as well as other technology including the Internet, digital photography, and file sharing.

      There used to be a plethora of creative jobs that no longer exist for pay because so many people do them for free. I want to shake any young person who tells me they're majoring in communications, journalism or photography, because all those things are basically hobbies now, even less career-sustaining than my theater major many decades ago.

      Did you know 20% of all the photos ever taken were taken in the last year? That one made my jaw drop. I did concert and music photography as a career in the ’80, but that would be impossible now.

      As for people in their 50s, it doesn't matter what they fell for or didn't fall for — most are struggling, even if they opted for a "stable" career like teaching or civil service work. Not sure what you mean by "spending habits," but it's not the spending of the middle class that's the problem. The fact that they can't is a huge problem and will get worse.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

      by anastasia p on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 11:18:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Basic guaranteed income (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    will be the only option in the not so distant future.  

    •  Zygoat - I don't think there is a chance for a (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justanothernyer, Sparhawk, MGross, FG

      guaranteed annual income in the US for at least a generation, maybe two. It is so at odds with our Puritan work ethic that it will not capture a super majority of voters for a very long time.

      A lot depends on the amount of the annual income for each person. If it's $5,000 a year that's one thing, if it's $20,000+ that is something completely different. To pay everyone $20,000 we would have to triple the amount of tax revenue to the US Treasury. That can't be done by just taxing the rich and would be very difficult.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 09:26:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It will mostly depend on the speed with which (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        automation replaces employment.  If, in 15-25 years, a significant percentage of the population is unemployable you will have sufficient support for a basic income.

        I agree with your numbers though: at this point  basic income would be in the $5000 range rather than the $20,000 plus range.

        Also, note that it likely wouldn't be everyone.  You would likely limit it to those who are adults and not yet eligible for Social Security and you would reduce it by say 25% of other income.  

      •  The most likely way this could happen in the US (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        would be through a flat income tax that also replaces Social Security and Medicare taxes, on all income at a single rate (including full value of imports) with a significant per person monthly payment for all to make the tax policy progressive on average - technically speaking a "Flat Subtraction Income Tax".  BTW, this policy would also strongly favor employment in the US over current policy, as it ends the tax advantages of sending jobs outside the US.  

        When this is done, the significant monthly per person payment comes with various government transfer payments being eliminated such as SNAP (food stamps), housing assistance, and others reduced such as ACA subsidies and Social Security.  

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 10:36:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You can't make a flat tax progressive (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It is a scheme to lavish massive tax breaks on the wealthy and ultra-wealthy. The payment you would have to make per person to make this progressive would be huge, especially if you planned to eliminate programs like SNAP and reduce Social Security. You'd probably have to make payments to everyone with incomes under $75,000-$100,000.

          Otherwise, as is typical in flat tax schemes, the middle and upper-middle class would essentially be destroyed, killing any potential benefit to the economy.

          Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

          by anastasia p on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 11:23:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know what you consider to be huge (0+ / 0-)

            consider the case of a flat tax rate of 25% (inclusive of federal income, social security and medicare taxes where employee pay is adjusted upward to account for the employer paid portion of social security and medicare).  Take a family of 4 getting monthly Federal payments for a total of $16,000/yr regardless of income (known as a negative income tax).  These monthly payments from the government to households go to everyone from the poorest to the wealthiest citizens and legal residents.

            In this case households with incomes below $64,000/yr receive more than they pay in all federal taxes - as much as $16,000/yr.  If the family had a $100,000/yr income they would owe the Federal government net $9,000 total for federal income tax plus social security and medicare both employee and employer.  This would benefit low income, middle income and upper middle class - very far from your assertion of destroying them.

            For the very wealthy who get most all of their income from capital gains, their total taxes due increases.

            This also ends the constant reapplication and re-approval for federal benefits by low income households.  In addition, these household don't have the problem of a rapid decline in benefits received as their income increases - making it difficult for them to get ahead from work.

            This approach shifts much of income transfer payments from todays current federal programs to the tax code.

            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

            by nextstep on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 12:16:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Flat tax? (0+ / 0-)

          Best way to make the taxation system fair is to tax everyone in a progressive tax structure as we currently do, only beef up enforcement and maybe reform it a little.  A few tweaks, like abolishing the Social Security cap and collecting this tax from the top wage tax brackets throughout the year, not just for the first few paychecks of the year.  Another tweak would be to shift the tax codes to help out the working class and actually collect taxes from the investment class?  You know, the people with disposable income that can afford to pay taxes?

          And, if we were really serious about things, we might even consider a maximum wage, say, limiting executive pay to 150% of the lowest wage a worker in the company earns?  Maybe give more incentives to reinvesting in workers and corporate infrastructure that are here in the States?

      •  How do you figure it would require trippling (0+ / 0-)


        •  If you paid every legal resident $20,000 (0+ / 0-)

          it would cost $6 Trillion a year. The federal government takes in less than $3 Trillion now. As others have mentioned it would likely be a smaller group, adults between 18-67, and reductions for other income. And as others have written the number would likely start much lower than $20,000/year.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 08:05:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Taxes don't fund fed gov spending, so really, (0+ / 0-)

            one can imagine running our monetary system in such a way that a basic income is both possible, and wouldn't lead to either too much deflation or too much inflation.

            The fed gov creates dollars out of thin air when it marks up bank accounts in the private sector.  Some of those dollars are then taken out of circulation when it taxes some of them away.

            Private banks create loans out of thin air too, and loans create deposits - out of thin air.

            Anyway, it's possible to imagine a basic income, funded by dollars created out of thin air.

            •  katiec - no it's not (0+ / 0-)

              When the Fed creates money "out of thin air" and banks create money "out of thin air" they have one important thing in common. They are loans that must be paid back, with interest. If they aren't loans they become wildly inflationary. There will never be a basic income funded out of thin air. If we every have one it will be funded by taxes and borrowing.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 09:41:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Dollars are loans that must be payed back? (0+ / 0-)


                Dollars are the government's IOU to you.

                The gov owes you a tax credit.

                Dollars are the gov's liability, and your net financial asset.

                Dollars aren't loans from the fed gov to you.

                If it takes $12,000 dollars to run the economy at full capacity, with no extra dollars, then those $12,000 are fully utilized, and there are no excess dollars bidding up prices.

                No inflation.

                Inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods.

                Fiat dollars has nothing to do with it.

                Basic income:  Let's say  there are only 10 people on the planet, and the only thing people ever consume is lettuce, and 10 heads of lettuce are produced every day.  

                You'd give each person one ticket a day to buy all the lettuce.

                No ticket inflation would occur.

              •  Should say: There'd be no lettuce price (0+ / 0-)


                If the gov created 15 tickets, rather than only 10, then you'd get a bidding up of lettuce price.

                So, really, no.....  inflation has nothing directly to do with either borrowing or taxes or interest rates.

                If you printed up 15 tickets, and caused inflation, then you'd want to tax away those 3 excess tickets.

                Taxes regulate inflation, they don't fund fed gov spending, cuz the fed gov creates the tickets at will.

                Also, borrowing:  In order for the fed gov to  borrow tickets from the private sector, it must first spend the tickets into the private sector.

                Only now does the private sector  have tickets.

                Which the gov can then borrow back.

                The private sector is not the ticket creator.

  •  I'm sure the TPP will fix this! (5+ / 0-)

    Or not. Funny how Obama isn't being up front with America as to what this "trade deal" will actually DO, isn't it?

    A great and sad example of the intersection of our "security state" and low wage jobs can be found in whistle blower Peter Van Buren's  "An Apartheid of Dollars: Life in the New American Minimum-Wage Economy", where he talks about his transition from whistle blower to low wage worker.

    (I'm pretty sure Tom Engelhardt had posted a diary on this a short while ago on DK, but it didn't get many eyeballs.)

  •  Our industrial infrastructure (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon

    was loaded up and offshored so six year olds can do the jobs union workers once did.

    Getting that back is challenging.

  •  In addition to manufacturing jobs, (4+ / 0-)

    we've also offshored very good middle to upper middle class office jobs. Many of the jobs I did while advancing my career are now done in Mexico, Brazil, India, and Malaysia. These are all still jobs that are done vs having been eliminated, just no longer done here.

    And while this work has moved on paper, in practice that is complete BS so those of us who are left in the US are doing the jobs we have ( for now) as well as pieces and parts of all the ones that have supposedly gone offshore . The company pretends it's possible to compartmentalize and piecemeal things and we waste time we don't have putting the puzzle back together.

    We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book.

    by Vita Brevis on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 10:29:50 AM PDT

  •  I remember hearing that the US would (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, akze29, TracieLynn

    have a service based economy. I wondered then how we could sustain an economy based on us selling each other hamburgers and fries. I still wonder.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 10:52:35 AM PDT

  •  After the revolution there will be new jobs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akze29, TracieLynn

    Pitchfork salesman
    Torch supplier
    Tumbril driver
    Dungeon Guard

    "Enhanced Interrogation Specialist" - Oh wait, we have that one already

    Guillotine repair technician
    Kangaroo-court stenographer
    Firing-squad commander

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 02:35:26 PM PDT

    •  Yup (0+ / 0-)

      And not one of those people does anything productive. Living standards will fall massively.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 08:43:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  By the time people are breaking out the pitchforks (0+ / 0-)

        Living standards have fallen about as far as they can go.

        That's usually why they're breaking out the torches and pitchforks.

        This is why I can never understand why our would-be oligarchs want to replace the system that beat Communism with the one that spawned it.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 09:06:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You've got a looong way before that happens (0+ / 0-)

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 09:24:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Don't worry (0+ / 0-)

            the Koch's are on the job.

            They'll have us there soon enough.

            If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

            by Major Kong on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 09:57:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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