Mid-Skill or Mid-Wage?
For our analysis, we used middle-wage jobs instead of middle-skill jobs (i.e., those that require less than a bachelor’s degree but more than a high school degree). This is because some occupations that the BLS has assigned a mid level of education (e.g., registered nurses) often require a higher level of education by employers.This methodology is similar to the one used by Autor is his 2010 study. For a brief synopsis of why Autor used wage to approximate skill, see here.
Share of New Jobs in Mid-Wage Category
In the U.S., a quarter of all new jobs since 2010 fall in the mid-wage range. That’s a slightly smaller share than high-wage jobs (29%), while almost half (46%) of new jobs have been low-wage.No state has stood out more than Wyoming, where 45% of new jobs since 2010 have been mid-wage — well ahead of Iowa (37%), North Dakota (36%), and Michigan (35%). Texas (25%) and California (23%) have created the most total new middle-wage jobs in the nation, but they’re in the middle of the pack in terms of the share of all new jobs.At the bottom, Rhode Island is the only state that’s lost middle-wage jobs the last few years. Coincidentally, it’s also seen a decline in high-wage jobs, meaning all of its job growth has been in occupations that pay $13.83 or lower.Meanwhile, Mississippi (10%) and New York (13%) have the lowest share of new mid-wage jobs among states that have seen job increases.Generally, states with higher cost of living are at the bottom in mid-wage job growth, with the exception of Mississippi. (It’s worth noting 80% of new jobs in Mississippi have been low-wage).
|State Name||2013 Jobs||New Jobs Since 2010 (Total)||New Jobs Since 2010 (Mid-Wage)||Share of New Jobs Since 2010 (Mid-Wage)|
|Source: QCEW Employees, Non-QCEW Employees & Self-Employed – EMSI 2013.3 Class of Worker|
|District of Columbia||775,185||23,111||4,378||19%|
Mid-Skill, Mid-Wage Occupations on the Rise
The list of still-vibrant middle-wage jobs is long, and most typically require on-the-job training, work experience, or short-term certificates and degrees that community colleges specialize in. This includes customer service representatives (up 6%) and heavy/tractor-trailer truck drivers (up 7%), two occupations that have each added more than 118,000 estimated jobs since the start of 2010. Both offer solid, mid-tier earnings ($14.91 and $18.14 median hourly earnings, respectively).Other examples of strong mid-wage occupations:
- Machinists have the best combination of total jobs added from 2010 to 2013 (nearly 50,000) and percentage job growth (14%). This occupation is just one of several on-the-rebound production fields: computer controlled machine tool operators (17% growth since 2010), welders (11%), and inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers (8%) have also performed well post-recession.
- The fastest-growing mid-wage jobs are clustered in energy fields, specifically oil and gas: roustabouts (38% growth since 2010), oil, gas, and mining service unit operators (38%), helpers of extraction workers (28%), and extraction workers, all other (22%). Next in percentage growth since 2010 are computer controlled machine tool operators (17%).
These occupations are the cream of the crop in terms of recent job growth, and there are dozens of other viable mid-wage professions.Data for this post comes from Analyst, EMSI’s labor market data research tool. For more information on mid-skill, mid-wage jobs in your region, or for more information on EMSI, contact Josh Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org). Follow Wright on Twitter at @ByJoshWright and EMSI at @DesktopEcon.