Low-Wage Job Gains in North Carolina

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The National Employment Law Project recently found that in the United States, 22 percent of the jobs lost in the recent recession were “low-wage,” while a much larger percentage (44%) of the jobs gained in the ongoing recovery were "low wage."

Though not an exact apples-to-apples comparison, North Carolina seems to not stray from that trend when you look at the number of goods-producing and service-producing jobs NC has gained and lost since 2009. Since January 2009, the State of NC has increased the total number of jobs by about 102,000.

The State, however, lost about 67,000 “goods-producing” jobs (most leaving in 2009 and never coming back) [1]

Loss of goods-producing jobs since January 2009

While gaining 169,000 or so “service-producing” jobs:

Service-producing jobs, Jan 2009 - March 2014

This matters because goods-producing jobs, on average, pay so much more than the service-producing jobs that are replacing them in our state’s economy.

The goods-producing supersector, which includes manufacturing, construction, etc., pays a national average weekly wage of $1041.92[2] , compared to the much lower service-producing supersector’s average of $798.87.

Among the large gains in service-producing jobs were 30,000 in Education and Health Services, at a national average weekly wage of $799.68.

Education Health Services increases
Increase in education/health services jobs in NC from January 2009 - March 2014

Another 30,000 jobs were added in Leisure and Hospitality Services, at a much lower national average weekly wage of $357.83.

Leisure / Hospitality job increases 1/09 - 3/14
Leisure / Hospitality job increases from Jan 09 - March 2014

And another 21,000 were in retail trade, with a national average weekly wage of $526.03.

Leisure / Hospitality employment gains

When you are trying to make ends meet, any employment is better than no employment. But these numbers reiterate the fact that the unemployment rate and claims of job creation are over-simplified numbers that simply do not tell the whole story. Quantity matters, but so does quality.


[1] (screenshots from the NC ESC “demand-driven data delivery system”), available at http://esesc23.esc.state.nc.us/d4/CesSelection.aspx. For data-mining nerds (which I believe is in the “service-providing” sector), it’s quite a tool.

[2] Average weekly wages are found from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Table B-3a, available at http://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/ceseeb3a.htm.


Posted by Joseph Arthur Polich on Wed. April 30, 2014 5:33 PM
Categories: News
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