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Study: Middle-wage jobs still strong in some states, sectors

October 10 2013

One-quarter of all new jobs added in the U.S. since 2010 fall in the middle-wage range — between $13.84 and $21.13 per hour — trailing the share of both high-wage jobs at 29 percent and low-wage jobs at 46 percent, according to a new study from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International. However, the study found  there are various fields and states where these positions are thriving. 

“Middle-wage positions sustained heavier hits during the recession than other wage groups,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “This is further indication of a hollowing effect economists have warned about, where middle-wage jobs are thinning out — creating a greater concentration of either high-wage or low-wage positions.”

Forty-five percent of new jobs that were created in Wyoming since 2010 have been middle-wage, well ahead of other high-performing states: Iowa at 37 percent, North Dakota at 36 percent and Michigan at 35 percent.

Texas (25 percent) and California (23 percent) have created the largest total number of new middle-wage jobs in the United States but rank in the middle of the pack in terms of the share of all new jobs.

Rhode Island is the only state that's lost middle-wage jobs over the last few years.

Middle-wage occupations on the rise

  • Customer service representatives:  added 132,690 jobs since 2010, up 6 percent
    Median hourly earnings - $14.91
  • Heavy/tractor-trailer truck drivers: added 118,541 jobs since 2010, up 7 percent

    Median hourly earnings - $18.41
  • Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks: added 77,162 jobs since 2010, up 4 percent
    Median hourly earnings - $17.02
  • Construction laborers: added 69,148 jobs since 2010, up 6 percent 

    Median hourly earnings - $14.60
  • Machinists: added 49,906 jobs since 2010, up 14 percent 

    Median hourly earnings - $19.01
  • Welders, cutters, solderers and brazers:  added 38,153 jobs since 2010, up 11 percent 

    Median hourly earnings - $17.58
  • Automotive service technicians and mechanics: added 36,229 jobs since 2010, up 5 percent
    Median hourly earnings - $16.47
  • Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers and weighers: added 34,424 jobs since 2010, up 8 percent
    Median hourly earnings - $16.81
  • Medical assistants: added 29,949 jobs since 2010, up 5 percent 

    Median hourly earnings - $14.35
  • Computer-controlled machine tool operators: added 21,307 jobs since 2010, up 17 percent 

    Median hourly earnings - $17.14
  • Oil, gas and mining service unit operators: added 16,690 jobs since 2010, up 38 percent
    Median hourly earnings - $20.16

The study pulled data from EMSI's labor market database of more than 90 federal and state sources, such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau and state labor departments. 


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