As Economy Expands, Middle Wage Jobs Most At Risk

August 16, 2016 – The U.S. economy is expected to add 7,232,517 jobs over the next five years, a healthy five percent increase. But a new study just out from CareerBuilder and Emsi shows that workers in middle wage jobs may not find as many opportunities. For the middle class, mounting pressures are likely to continue well into the second decade of this century.

High wage and low wage occupations are each projected to grow five percent from 2016 to 2021, but middle wage jobs are only estimated to grow three percent. At the same time, 61 percent of the 173 occupations expected to lose jobs over the next five years are in the middle wage category.

Declining Middle Wage Employment

“The U.S. is facing a sustained trend of declining middle wage employment that has serious implications not only for workers, but for the economy overall,” said Matt Ferguson, chief executive officer of CareerBuilder. “If we can’t find a way to re-skill and up-skill workers at scale, middle wage workers will become increasingly susceptible to unemployment or will have to move into lower paying roles that may not support them and their families. This can have a negative ripple effect on consumer spend, housing, investing and other key financial indicators.”

Occupations Adding and Losing Jobs by Wage Category 

For the purpose of this study, CareerBuilder and Emsi defined low-wage jobs as those that pay $13.83 per hour and below; middle wage jobs earn $13.84 to $21.13 per hour; and high-wage occupations make $21.14 per hour and higher.

The following is a list of occupations that rank among the top for projected growth or declines in employment for each wage category from 2016 to 2021. Each of the growing occupations listed are those adding at least 50,000 jobs over the next five years.

A number of recent reports have put wages in a favorable light. According to the Korn Ferry Hay Group ‘2016 Salary Forecast study,’ workers are expected to see wage increases of 2.5 percent, the highest in three years.

“This year’s global salary forecast shows that for the majority of countries real wage increases in 2016 are set to be the highest in three years,” said Philip Spriet, global managing director for productized services at Hay Group. “Differing macro-economic conditions means there are stark variations globally, but overall decent pay increases, coupled with extremely low (and in some cases, zero) inflation, mean that the outlook is positive for workers.”

ADP’s ‘Workforce Vitality Report,’ found that the U.S. labor market maintained its trend of growth in wages in the second quarter, however at a slower pace. Gains in the second quarter were driven by growth in hours worked and employment. Wage growth for full time workers varied across industries during the past four quarters.

“The positive trend in wage growth over the past few quarters suggests that wages may finally reflect the tightening labor market,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. “Employers are continuing to provide raises to their workers for retention.”

From the employee perspective, workers are confident looking ahead when it comes to the job market, job security and pay raises, according to Glassdoor’s first quarter ‘Employment Confidence Survey.’ Nearly half (46 percent) of U.S. employees expect a pay raise or cost-of-living increase in the next 12 months.

Despite these upbeat reports, workers still feel that they need to change jobs to get a decent pay raise.

More than half of employees globally (56 percent) believe they must switch companies in order to make a meaningful change in their compensation, according to the ‘Global Salary Transparency Survey‘ released by Glassdoor.

In another study released by Penna48 percent of people claimed the main reason for a job change was that they were searching for better pay and benefits. Of those, the survey found that employees aged 18 to 24 were the most likely to be planning a move this year, while 25 percent of those aged 25 to 34 are considering leaving their posts.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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