U.S. Jobs Market Isn’t As Healthy As It Seems

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
U.S. jobs market
The caliber of jobs created in recent decades has left Americans working fewer hours and earning lower pay, an analysis of the U.S. jobs market showed. A job seeker looks at a bulletin at the Texas Workforce Commission’s Workforce Solutions of Greater Dallas job resource center in Richardson, Texas Tuesday, July 5, 2011. Image: AP Photo/LM Otero

The U.S. labor market is the best it has been in more than 50 years judging from the jobless rate — a hallmark of the economic expansion witnessed in recent years — which is at a half-century low.

But analysts at Cornell University and other institutions say that the data is misleading as the quality of jobs has deteriorated over the years.

The caliber of jobs created in the last few decades has left Americans working fewer hours and earning lower pay in these new positions, an analysis of jobs created in the U.S. over the years showed.

A new index created by researchers from Cornell University — alongside a team drawn from the University of Missouri Kansas City, the Coalition for a Prosperous America, and the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity – has been able to determine the underlying health of the U.S. jobs market.

The Cornell-CPA U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index tracks the ratio of high-wage/high-hours jobs to low-wage/low-hours jobs on a monthly basis, going back to 1990.

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The index showed that job quality, as distinguished from quantity, had declined over the decades by as much as 16 percent during the financial crisis.

“Much of this decline stems from a change in the mix of available jobs in America, but much also stems from the reduction in the number of hours of work available on jobs in many sectors,” Daniel Alpert and Robert C. Hockett, researchers at Cornell University wrote in a column published by Bloomberg.