Employment and Jobs

The Mixed Message in Today’s Jobs Numbers

March 8, 2013

Today’s jobs report, looking at February employment numbers, exceeded expectations in regards to total jobs added, 236,000, and the overall unemployment rate, which fell to 7.7% from 7.9% last month. These results are largely attributed to jobs added in traditionally low-wage sectors: retail, restaurants, construction, and others. The Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) has been highlighting each of these sectors in the series “Reinventing Low Wage Work.”

EOP’s Executive Director Maureen Conway had this reaction to the February jobs numbers:

“[W]e have a continuing mixed message in terms of the outlook for working people. On the one hand, it’s great to see more jobs—definitely a good thing and glad to see a higher number than expected. In terms of job quality, however, we see growth in areas that are likely to not have family-sustaining jobs—more retail and restaurant jobs, and even in health care. We see nearly half the jobs in nursing and residential care facilities or in home health, which tend to be lower paid than other segments of the industry, like hospitals. The number of people with multiple jobs is up while the number of people who are involuntarily part-time is essentially the same, which also indicates that many employed persons are having a hard time supporting themselves on what they earn from their work.”

Below you can watch several discussions from the series on low wage work:

Work in Residential Construction:

Work in the Restaurant Industry:

Home Economics: A Discussion about the Unregulated World of Domestic Work: