5 States Adding the Most Middle-Income Jobs
Middle-income jobs have been on the decline in the United States over the past few decades. This is not just an observation that people have noticed — data from the Federal Reserve shows that the percentage of jobs in the U.S. classified as middle wage has dropped from 25 percent in 1985 to approximately 15 percent today.
This has important implications not only for individuals but for the economy as a whole. When fewer middle-wage jobs are available, it means that there is less upward mobility because there are less jobs that can act as segues or stepping stones between low- and high-wage positions. In addition, middle-wage jobs go hand in hand with higher income inequality, as the percentages lost by these jobs have been gained in low- or high-wage positions.
Despite middle-wage positions enduring cuts from the financial crisis as well as outsourcing, there are still many such jobs available across the country. In fact, a recent trend has been the recreation of jobs in that wage category, many of which require some amount of training or skill and are bolstered by the presence of strong labor unions. However, there is a lot of regional variance in the creation rate of middle-wage jobs; overall, around a quarter of new positions being created are considered middle wage, but the number drops below 15 percent in states like New York, and down to 10 percent in Mississippi.
One question for economists is how middle-wage positions are defined. While some studies look at the education or experience required to obtain a job, most studies look at the actual hourly wage of a position, with jobs that pay between $13.84 and $21.13 classified as middle wage for the purposes of a recent study undertaken by EMSI, an Idaho-based economics firm.
Using EMSI’s numbers, let’s take a look at the five states that are proportionally making the most new middle-wage positions.