Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Our KUQU 93.9 signal in Washington and Iron counties will be off intermittently for maintenance. Thank you for your patience.

Where Wages Are Rising (And Falling), In 1 Graph

Job growth has been strong and steady over the past year. Wages, not so much: Average pay for U.S. workers barely kept up with inflation. But there was a fair bit of variation across different sectors. Here's a look. (In the graph, the size of the circle indicates the total number of jobs in each sector.)

The graph looks like a sideways horseshoe. High-wage and low-wage jobs saw pay gains, while jobs in the middle saw wages stagnate or decline. This trend has been going on for a long time; MIT economist David Autor has called it the " hollowing out" of the middle class.

Of course, you can also point to a number of more specific factors at work over the past year. The economic recovery drove wage gains in retail, leisure and construction jobs — all of which tend to be highly cyclical, growing a lot during expansions and contracting rapidly during recessions. The energy boom drove gains in the mining, drilling and logging category. And the "information" sector is basically computer-related stuff, which, you know the story there.

One final note: The categories here are really broad — we'd love to unbundle health care and education, for example — but this data set doesn't let us do that.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.