A Case of the Disappearing Middle Class Job Market

17 Sep

            If every economic report comes with a list of footnotes, I just found one that deserves to move to the front of the narrative.  This footnote comes with high hopes and a stack of resumes.

            Her name is Jeannette Doss.  She’s unemployed and looking for a job.  She’s fluent in sign language and Spanish and has worked in the past as an interpreter.  This time she’s struggling to just find a job as a receptionist.

Jeannette Doss Looking for Work at the Hennepin Co. Jobs Fair

            “It’s very, very hard.  It’s very difficult.  There are lots of people out here.  And everybody is actually going for the same thing,” said Jeannette.

            She joined dozens of other unemployed workers at the Hennepin County Jobs Fair held at the Mall of America.  Representatives from 35 companies were on hand ready to accept applications.  Stir Crazy, a new restaurant opening at MOA needs to hire 160 employees.  Macy’s at Ridgedale Shopping Center is now hiring 250 seasonal workers for the holidays.   All are welcome job openings in a dismal economy that the experts actually call a recovery.  However, accept any of these jobs and one will struggle to pay the grocery bill.  Or the winter heating bill.  Or the mortgage.  Stir Crazy’s pay range is just $8-$13 an hour.

Figure 1: Recession Unemployment Recovery- BLS

            The reality of the New Economy is underscored by brand new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows the American worker is losing the war on wages.  For the month of August alone, pay dropped 2.3 percent from a year ago as consumer prices rose 3.8 percent.  It coincides with additional BLS research that shows the economic recovery is the slowest and most painful in modern times. (Figure 1)  The recessions of ’90-’91, ’81-’82, and the oil crisis recession of ’74-’75 all had recoveries that produced jobs at an exponentially faster rate than now.  The BLS notes that for the first time the employment ratio for women has fallen as fast as men.

            Which brings us back to Jeannette Doss, unemployed and having trouble finding a decent job at a decent wage.  Fortunately, she’s optimistic.

            “There are some prospects and I’m looking for call backs,” said Doss.

            And while you ponder Doss’ fate ponder this, too.  CEO pay in 2011 has risen 23 percent.

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