Being a government town, it is no surprise that the creation of private sector jobs is not our strong suit, but being almost last (49th )among 51 cities ranked is really bad, as this article from New Geography notes—graph at bottom after the jump.
Perhaps nothing is as critical to America’s future as the trajectory of the middle class and improving the prospects for upward mobility. With middle-class incomes stagnant or falling, we need to find a way to generate jobs for Americans who, though eager to work and willing to be trained, lack the credentials required to enter many of the most lucrative professions.
Mid-skilled jobs in areas such as manufacturing, construction and office administration — a category that pays between $14 and $21 an hour — can provide a decent standard of living, particularly if one has a spouse who also works, and even more so if a family lives in a relatively low-cost area. But mid-skilled employment is in secular decline, falling from 25% of the workforce in 1985 to barely 15% today. This is one reason why middle- and working-class incomes remain stagnant, well below pre-recession levels.
Over the past three years, high-wage professions have accounted for 29% of new jobs created, while the lowest-paid jobs (under $13 an hour) have grown to encompass roughly half of all new jobs. Net worth-wise, as a recent Pew study notes, the wealthy — the top 7% — are thriving due to the rebound of the stock and bond markets; the bottom 93%, whose wealth is more tied up in their homes, is still feeling the hangover from the cratering of housing prices in the recession.
No surprise then that about a third of all Americans now consider themselves lower class, according to another Pew study, up from a quarter before the recession.
But middle-income employment has not vanished everywhere. An analysis of the distribution of new jobs since 2010 by Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. found a wide disparity among the states. Between 34% and 45% of all new jobs have been mid-wage in Wyoming, Iowa, North Dakota, Michigan and Arizona. The worst performers: Mississippi where only 10% of new jobs have been middle-income, followed by New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Virginia, all with 14% or less. (Note: I use the terms “mid-skill” and “middle-income” interchangeably; recent research suggests pay is a reasonable proxy for skill.)