The jobs that have been added to the economy during the recovery pay 23 percent less, on average, than those that were lost in the recession, according to a report from The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM).
The report examined the sectors where jobs were added between 2009 and 2014 and weighted them by how many each gained, finding that their average wage was $47,171 a year. By contrast, the 8.7 million jobs lost in 2008 and 2009 paid an average of $61,637, representing a 23 percent gap between the two.
This trend was driven by the sectors that saw the highest losses and those that have bounced back. The manufacturing and construction industries bled jobs during the recession, and each pay $63,000 and $58,000, respectively, relatively high wages. On the other hand, the biggest job gains during the recovery have come in sectors like hospitality and food services, which pays $20,955, health care, which pays $47,000, administrative support, which pays $37,000, and retail, which pays $29,322.
Something similar happened in the most recent downturn before the Great Recession, the recession between 2000 and 2003. In that time, the jobs lost paid an average of $43,950, while those added afterward paid 12 percent less. But that gap is not nearly as large as the one in today’s economy.
The report is the latest to confirm that while job growth has been strong lately, the types of jobs being added may not support working families. A study by the National Employment Law Project in 2012 that was updated in 2014 found that the majority of jobs added since the recession have been in low-wage occupations, even though they made up a small share of the jobs lost in the crash. High- and mid-wage jobs led the pack for losses but haven’t nearly recovered their share. Another report found that about half the jobs added in the first three years of the recovery were low paying.
The USCM report also highlights growing income inequality, as the richest bracket saw a $490 billion gain in total income in 2012 while all of the lower groups saw a decline. Even as the average worker hasn’t seen a raise in a decade, the richest are taking home a record share of income. The disproportionate gain of low-wage jobs after a loss of better paying ones will only further this trend, and indeed, the recession has made income inequality worse.
Things are only forecast to be worse, though. One in four workers are projected to be in low-wage jobs over the next decade.