Gap between high-wage and low-wage jobs expected to grow

A new study from CareerBuilder points to a continued hollowing effect in the labor market where high-wage and low-wage job growth is eclipsing middle-wage job growth by a significant margin.

Based on extensive analysis of historical and current labor market trends, the U.S. is expected to add 8,310,003 jobs (5.08 percent growth) from 2018 to 2023 – only one-fourth of these jobs will fall within the middle-wage category. Factored into the total job growth is an expected loss of 369,879 jobs over the same time period, with middle wage occupations experiencing the majority of the decline.

Key Findings:

  • High-wage and low-wage occupations are expected to have the highest net job growth from 2018 to 2023 at 5.71 percent and 5.69 percent, respectively. Middle wage employment will grow at 3.83 percent.
  • High-wage and low-wage occupations will each add 1 million more jobs than middle-wage occupations from 2018 to 2023. High-wage occupations are expected to add 3,117,284 jobs and low-wage occupations are expected to add 3,098,476 jobs compared to 2,094,243 new jobs for middle-wage occupations.
  • A total of 121 occupations will experience a decline in jobs between 2018 and 2023 – 75 of those occupations are middle-wage. Across the 121 total occupations, 369,879 jobs will be lost with middle-wage occupations accounting for 58 percent of the loss.
  • STEM-related occupations (science, technology, engineering and math) will continue to dominate fast-growing occupations.

For the purposes of this study, CareerBuilder defined low-wage jobs as those that pay $14.17 or less per hour; middle-wage jobs as $14.18$23.59 per hour; and high-wage jobs as $23.24 per hour. The analysis is based on data from Emsi and focuses on 774 occupations that are classified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It includes data for workers who are employed with organizations and those who are self-employed.

“Technology innovation is moving at an unprecedented rate and is rapidly redefining the occupations and skills required in the job market,” said Irina Novoselsky, CEO of CareerBuilder. “Most of the fastest-growing occupations have a technical component to them. Employers will need to play a greater role in providing competency-based training to the workforce. At the same time, workers across all job levels will need to continually pursue opportunities to upskill in order to maneuver around accelerated shifts in labor demand. This is a particularly pressing issue for middle-wage workers who are at greater risk for becoming displaced and workers in general who want to move up into better-paying jobs.”

CareerBuilder recently launched a new mobile revolution that uses artificial intelligence to help workers in all wage categories make their next career move. The popular job search app helps you build resumes in a matter of minutes by prepopulating skills associated with a job title and company – and will even apply to jobs on your behalf if desired. It provides an augmented reality view of nearby jobs – and what they pay – when you walk around downtown, a mall or any other area. The app also shows you higher-paying jobs that require minimal training and options to upskill to help you build your career.

To provide workers with some insights into specific occupations that will add jobs at a strong rate from 2018 to 2023, CareerBuilder compiled a list of examples for each wage category:


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