Those seeking a light at the end of the tunnel of recovery will be glad to learn that the US has made up the 8.7 million jobs lost during the Great Recession and that the number of people employed now tops the prerecession peak of 138.4 million.
Buying that good news?
A look at the United States Conference of Mayors August report on metro economies shows that there’s little cause for celebration. All those recovered jobs actually represent a loss of $93 billion in annual wages, a drop of 23 percent. It turns out that the new jobs pay an average annual wage of $47,171 while the lost jobs paid an average of $61,637; many high-wage manufacturing and construction jobs were replaced with work in the hospitality, health care and administrative support sectors.
Though we know that the 1 percent is doing better than ever, it’s important to keep in mind that income inequality also occurs in the more modest income levels. In 2012, the most recent statistics available, about 35 percent of US households earned less than $35,000; 32 percent earned between $35,000 and $75,000, and 33 percent earned above $75,000. You can land a perch in the top 20 percent with a household income of $105,000.
The Mayors’ report predicts, “the drift toward income inequality will persist in the coming years as it is a structural feature of the 21st century economy. Unless policies are developed to mitigate these trends, income inequality will only grow larger in the future.”