Western democracies have not figured out how to maintain jobs and earnings for workers with low skill or modest education, writes William A. Galston in the WSJ. In Europe, there is double-digit unemployment, and, in the U.S., the large number of low-wage jobs does not come with the promise of upward mobility.
Beneath the dry statistics of the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we can see that future emerging. Over the next decade, the service sector will provide 95% of all the new jobs. Manufacturing, which shed more than two million jobs between 2004 and 2014, will shrink by an additional 800,000, to only 7% of the workforce. Of the 15 occupations with the most projected job growth, only four ask for a bachelor’s degree; eight require no formal education credentials; nine offer median annual wages under $30,000.
Few Americans know these statistics, but most of them are living the reality they represent. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the economy has ceased to work for households at and below the middle. A recent report from the Pew Research Center finds that the median income for middle-income households is about where it was in 1997. For lower-income households, median income stands where it did in 1996.
There are lessons here for both Republicans and Democrats, warns Mr. Galston. “Economic anxiety, demographic resentment and fears for physical security make a toxic combination.” Read more here.
Embedded below is the Pew Research Center’s tool for identifying where you land on the income spectrum.