We’ve suspected it for some time. Despite the hefty gains on Wall Street, the economic numbers pointed out the telltale signs. Sure, the Great Recession that knocked the stuffing out of the middle class and working Americans has technically ended. We survived. But it’s kind of like surviving a car crash—getting out was just the beginning.
Now we have fairly conclusive proof that having survived “The Recession” many Americans are having to go through that long climb back up the ladder. After a car crash, that might mean months or years of physical therapy. After The Recession, it means taking jobs that pay much lower than those many held before 2008. Much lower apparently.
According to a report published by the National Employment Law Project, “The Low-Wage Recovery: Industry Employment and Wages Four Years Into the Recovery,” we are in a low-wage recovery. It found that despite accounting for 22 percent of the job losses during The Recession’s peak-to-trough period of January 2008 to February 2010, the lower third of industries—in terms of median hourly wage—represented 44 percent of the jobs added to the private sector from February 2010 to February 2014. The mid-wage and high-wage industries are both still nearly a million jobs short of their pre-recession levels. Several industries “often associated with good-paying, blue-collar jobs” have been unable to offset their steep job cuts, the report said. For instance, employment in construction, durable goods manufacturing and wholesale trade is still well below peak pre-recession levels.
In 2013, Goodwill agencies across America placed more people in jobs and provided important financial and other services to more people than ever before. But the data from the National Employment Law Project shows that for Goodwill agencies, the challenge is still there. Our mission remains important to those making their way back up, and to those looking for that first job.