Are middle class jobs on the decline? Stephen Rose has an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on the subject. Imagine a day when relatively few women worked, and when they did, they earned less than men earned. Now change women’s attitudes so that they are more eager to enter the work force, or change employers’ attitudes so that they are more willing to hire women. What happens to average wages? Well, wage per worker may go down, as the new women bring down the average. That could happen even if the wage gap is narrowing, and even if women are gaining wages, and men are also gaining wages.
Stephen Rose goes into the subject of middle class jobs by looking separately at men and women, and by level of education. His key finding won’t fit the spin from either party’s econo-hacks:
"For three-quarters of the workforce (women and the top half of male earners), economic growth translated into earnings gains. But for male workers in the bottom half of the earnings distribution, the decline of unionized manufacturing employment has led to the drying up of some middle-class jobs for those with no post-secondary education."
There was a day when high wage jobs were available to low skilled people. Those days are over. Gone. Done. Sorry. It was fun while it lasted, but it is no more. Technology changed it. Trade changed it. But there’s no going back. Both national-level politicians and local chamber of commerce boosters seem ignorant of this fact, as they try to "create jobs" or "bring in an elephant" employer. Here’s the new bottom line: high skilled people will find work at high wages, and low skilled people will find work at low wages.