Yes, the slow US economic recovery is generating jobs. But what kind of jobs? In July, employment in the more volatile household measure increased 227,000, though part-time employment apparently accounted for the bulk of that gain, increasing by 174,000. What’s more, as the Center for Economic and Policy Research points out: “ Retail trade added 46,800 jobs and restaurants added 38,400, meaning that these two low-paying sectors accounted for more than half of all job growth in July. By comparison, they accounted for 46.8 percent of the job growth over the last three months and 32.2 percent of job growth over the last year.”
So is the quality of this jobs recovery weaker than usual? The above chart from the Atlanta Fed’s David Altig shows the percentages of job gains sorted by low-wage, middle-wage, and high-wage sectors for each of the U.S. expansion periods dating back to 1970. (He has dated the current recovery from March 2010: the month that employment gains turned positive.) Altig:
The lowest-wage sectors have consistently produced 40 percent to 50 percent of the job gains in recent recoveries. Though the percentage was slightly higher in July, it was not materially so. And this recovery does not look at all unusual when taken as a whole.