Valley Works: Where job growth is occurring

December 17, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Many economists will tell you we're seeing a structural shift, from middle income to low paying jobs. And that's having a huge impact on people looking for work.

Those looking for work will tell you it is one of the toughest jobs to find, one that pays good middle income wages and includes health care benefits.

Phill Roads said, "The job market is so brutal that there are a number of people competing for the same jobs as I."

A closer look at the latest jobs report tells part of the story. While the national unemployment rate ticked down to 7.7 percent and 146-thousand jobs were added to the economy, the majority of those were low paying.

According to a study by the National Employment Law Project, since the economy started expanding low wage positions paying between $7.00 to $13.00 per hour accounted for 58 percent of all job growth.

Occupations with the fastest growth; retail sales and food preparation. Now take a look at what happen to middle income jobs in such fields as construction, manufacturing and information, jobs paying between $14.00 and $21.00 an hour.

Those jobs accounted for 60 percent of job losses from 2008 to 2010, but only 22 percent of total job growth now that the economy is doing better.

Dr. Timothy Stearns said, "Let me just explain very quickly what the change is that's taking place."

Fresno State Professor Dr. Timothy Stearns says the labor market is shifting and to understand what is going on we need to take a look at history.

Dr. Timothy Stearns said, "We went through an industrial age where by the mechanism by which we trained people was to be able to perform in an industrial setting."

According to Dr. Stearns, the industrial age withered away in part due to robotics. After World War II, the country built out a managerial class, the workforce going from blue collar to white collar. He goes on to explain that computerized systems had a huge impact on those jobs.

"But we know in the 1990's that the whole management revolution began to unravel, and what we've seen today is companies beginning to downsize the managerial revolution," Dr. Stearns said. "The blue color work is being shipped overseas and as a result we have these shells of companies that make a lot of money but don't have to develop the workforce here locally or nationally like they did before."

Dr. Stearns says in order to turn around the current employment picture Fresno and other regions with high unemployment must change the way they educate and train a new workforce.


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