There's nothing more important in America right now than jobs, and it's not just the official unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, though there is that. Millions of more are underemployed, taking part time jobs or accepting positions with low fulfillment and lower pay. Even in New York City, where voters seem happy enough to give four more years to their gazillionaire IndyRepuDemWhatever mayor.
But the overall job market constantly shifts, particularly in a recession, when the economy sheds jobs and even whole industries. And in New York, middle- and working-class jobs that have disappeared — in fields like manufacturing, wholesale distribution and administrative services — have been replaced by jobs in sectors like retail, food service and home health care that generally pay less.
“There’s been much more growth in lower-wage industries than in middle-wage industries,” said James Parrott, chief economist for the Fiscal Policy Institute, a liberal research group. “That’s a challenge for people struggling to maintain a decent livelihood in New York City, given the cost of housing and everything else.”
Several research groups have concluded that jobs created for working-class New Yorkers will continue to be in these low-wage fields. A study by a nonpartisan group, the Center for an Urban Future, said that the two occupations that will have the most openings in New York City through 2014 are retail salesperson, with an average annual pay of $20,690, and cashier, with pay of $16,800.
And you have to wonder how long that is going to last -- who's going to be making cash registers go ka-ching in this kind of economy?