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Jobs shift to lower-paying sectors
LABOR LOSSES LARGE IN MANUFACTURING, PROFESSIONAL INDUSTRIES
By Margaret Steen
In almost every state, including California, jobs are shifting from higher-paying industries to lower-paying ones, according to a report released Wednesday by the Economic Policy Institute.
From November 2001 to November 2003, California had a net loss of 37,900 jobs, the study found.
Underneath this relatively small job loss, however, were larger losses in industries that typically pay well: manufacturing, the information sector and professional and business services. Job gains came in areas that often pay less: education and health services, leisure and hospitality and retail.
The average pay in California in industries that grew during the period studied was $34,742, 40 percent less than the average wage in industries that shrank, $57,800.
California was not alone in seeing this shift.
"What I found most surprising was that the job shift to lower-paying industries has happened in 48 of the 50 states,'' said Michael Ettlinger, a policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute who worked on the study.
Although the study explains why some workers who have lost high-paying jobs are having trouble finding new ones that pay as well today, it's not clear whether the findings represent a permanent shift in the types of jobs available to American workers.
Low-wage jobs tend to grow as the population grows, whereas many of the high-wage jobs that have been lost are in industries that are more cyclical, said Steve Cochrane, senior economist at Economy.com, who was not involved in the study.
"There just isn't enough information to be able to come to some firm conclusions on the trend,'' Cochrane said, because the study covered only two years. "The economy isn't always in this kind of a pattern.''
The study's authors said previous research showed that during the boom years of the late 1990s, the pattern was the opposite, with jobs shifting toward higher-paying work.
Ettlinger said government policies, especially regarding international trade, could address this shift.
The Economic Policy Institute is a non-profit group that was created to make sure the concerns of low- and middle-income workers were included in economic policy discussions.
Contact Margaret Steen at email@example.com or (408) 278-3499.
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