Most economists agree that the “Great Recession” of 2008 ended sometime around August 2009, and while the economy has been slowly recovering, unemployment still appears to be a stubborn problem. The headline rate is just a shade under 8 percent, which translates into a little over 12 million Americans out of work. But an alternative measure of unemployment, U6 (total unemployed, plus all people who are working part time for economic reasons, plus all people who are only marginally attached to the labor force), stands at an incredible 14.4 percent.
A study by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) found that most of the job losses that occurred during the recession were in what we would consider mid-wage occupations. And slowly but surely, as the U.S. works its way out of this prolonged economic slump, new jobs are being created. But unfortunately, most of the jobs created during the recovery have been in sectors that we would consider as lower-wage occupations (primarily service jobs).
With consumer spending accounting for roughly two thirds of the U.S. economy, a lack of good paying jobs does not bode well for a sustained and robust recovery.