Jul 16, 2017 - Economy

A snapshot of the jobs malaise

The U.S. is in the third-longest economic expansion in post-war history. There are more jobs, but wages have been a sore spot: since the financial crash, the typical American's earnings have barely grown when you account for inflation. To track this dynamic over time, I worked with Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed, who analyzed U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and projections on which this animated chart relies. Sector by sector, the chart follows employment and wages since 2006, just before the crash.

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Note: Most growth projections are made at the same level of industry detail shown here. In cases where no growth projection exists, the number shown represents one detail level up; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

How to read it: The circles indicate industries, sized by their average number of employees over time. From there, the chart is doing two things — tracking jobs and earnings from 2006 to 2017 (the up and down movement of the circles shows the change in number of jobs; left to right is the change in earnings), and projecting forward from 2014 to 2024 (signified by the intensity of the colors of the circles).

  • The vertical axis indicates change in employment from the same month a year prior
  • The horizontal axis indicates the average wage within the industry
  • Blue circles are industries likely to grow over that decade (deep blue means strong projected growth)
  • Pink means they will shrink (deep pink means serious shrinkage)

The drop down menu lists the major economic sectors.

  • Select manufacturing, and you'll see that it comprises the bulk of industries projected to lose workers
  • To see a snapshot of any industry's historic trajectory, click on its circle.

Digging deeper: When the recession hit in 2008, job growth dipped well into negative territory for most industries. Previous recessions affected certain sectors more than others, but the financial crisis attacked almost every part of the economy. As most industries were shedding jobs through 2009, only health care seemed to fare relatively well.

Since the end of 2009, most industries have been back in positive terrain, steadily adding jobs month over month. "During the recession, middle-wage industries had the steepest job losses," Kolko says. "But in the past year, job growth in middle-wage industries, in jobs like plumbers, painters and tile workers, outpaced both low and high-wage industries." Overall, as the economy nears full employment, wage growth remains sluggish.

Looking ahead: The BLS projects that health care and social assistance will account for over a third of the nation's job growth between 2014 and 2024.

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