NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

High-Pay Jobs Growing Faster

February 17, 1998

The Economic Policy Institute predicted in 1994 that most jobs created in the 1990s would be low wage and low skill. But jobs that pay well are growing much faster than those on the low end of the pay scale, according to 1997 Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Observing that most job growth was occurring in the service sector, some economists erroneously concluded new jobs must be going to hamburger flippers, retail clerks and security guards. Instead, the growth in service-sector jobs is apparently among higher-paid managers, computer systems workers and other positions that pay well.

  • From 1989 to 1997, 7.6 million jobs have been created that pay more than $501 a week in 1993 dollars -- an 18.8 percent increase in the upper third of new jobs.
  • Jobs in the lowest third -- paying less than $340 a week -- increased just 9.4 percent.
  • Jobs in the middle -- those paying between $340 and $501 a week -- were trending downward, with 1.6 million of those jobs lost from 1989 to 1993.
  • But by the end of 1997, all 1.6 million jobs were recovered and the trend was up.

Observers believe the increase in good-paying jobs reflects better training and education, because pay increases are the result of productivity increases.

The BLS data do not include self-employed workers -- such as business owners, doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

Experts predict that growth in good-paying jobs will continue to outstrip growth in low-pay jobs.

Source: Del Jones, "Growth in Good-Paying Jobs Better Than Predicted," USA Today, February 17, 1998.


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