Some signs of hope for mid­dle- and high-wage job growth

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Kath­leen Win­sor-Games — Kath­leen Win­sor-Games is the prin­ci­pal of The Win­sor Group, a Den­ver-based firm of­fer­ing lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment, team build­ing and ca­reer coach­ing. See her blog at TheWin­

Last month I spot­ted an ar­ti­cle that her­alded the re­turn of mid­dle-wage jobs. Since the re­ces­sion of 2009, I have noted the slow but steady re­turn of job growth na­tion­ally and in Colorado. I’ve been dis­ap­pointed mid­dle-wage and high-wage jobs haven’t had the same re­turn as lower-wage jobs.

The ar­ti­cle I no­ticed ap­peared in For­tune mag­a­zine in Au­gust 2016, and cites en­cour­ag­ing signs of mid­dle-wage job growth since 2015. Ac­cord­ing to the ar­ti­cle, 2.3 mil­lion mid­dle-wage jobs were added be­tween 2013 and 2015, with wages from $30,000 to $60,000 an­nu­ally. Dur­ing the same time pe­riod, nearly 1.5 mil­lion high-wage jobs were added, with wages be­tween $60,000 and $100,000 or above an­nu­ally.

In­spired by the ar­ti­cle, I de­cided to dig into a va­ri­ety of re­sources to de­ter­mine which di­rec­tion eco­nomic signs are point­ing, and un­cov­ered some in­ter­est­ing data worth shar­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­sus Bureau, 12 mil­lion more Amer­i­cans worked full time and year round in 2015 than in 2009. Dur­ing the worst of the re­ces­sion, many took on mul­ti­ple part­time jobs to make ends meet. While there are an es­ti­mated 6 mil­lion part-time work­ers per re­cent re­ports, the tide is turn­ing for those who want full-time work.

Look­ing more closely at Colorado’s em­ploy­ment mar­ket, our un­em­ploy­ment rate stands at 3.8 per­cent, com­pared to na­tional un­em­ploy­ment of 4.9 per­cent, and down from a lo­cal peak of 9.1 per­cent in 2010.

What does this trans­late to for your ca­reer and fi­nan­cial prospects? I be­lieve the tide has turned in many sec­tors of the job mar­ket, par­tic­u­larly in Colorado. We must take into ac­count the en­ergy sec­tor, es­pe­cially oil and gas, which has been stag­gered by drop­ping prices and de­mand, in turn caus­ing mas­sive lay­offs. Nev­er­the­less, nu­mer­ous sec­tors re­main strong and short­ages now ex­ist for qual­i­fied can­di­dates in a num­ber of oc­cu­pa­tions at all lev­els of the wage scale.

The strong­est sec­tors for job de­mand in Colorado, ac­cord­ing to Metro Den­ver Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion’s 2016 re­port, are: Nat­u­ral Re­sources/Con­struc­tion, Ed­u­ca­tion, Health, and Pro­fes­sional/Busi­ness Ser­vices. The top 10 jobs posted in the Den­ver area: Nurse, Soft­ware De­vel­oper, Re­tail Clerk, Net­work Ad­min­is­tra­tor, Cus­tomer Ser­vice Em­ployee, Com­puter Sup­port Spe­cial­ist, Re­tail Su­per­vi­sor, Ad­min­is­tra­tive Staff Su­per­vi­sor, Mar­ket­ing Man­ager and Sales Rep­re­sen­ta­tive. Seven of the 10 po­si­tions are mid­dle to high wage.

A re­cent sur­vey of re­cruiters con­ducted by Job­vite re­vealed 74 per­cent of work­ers are open to new jobs. In the past year, 68 per­cent of re­cruiters say can­di­dates ne­go­ti­ated in­creased salaries.

What should you take away from this in­for­ma­tion? While the econ­omy and job mar­ket are cycli­cal in na­ture, now is a good time to ex­plore op­por­tu­ni­ties that in­volve a step up in re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and pay. Keep a close eye on your in­dus­try, job func­tion and the econ­omy to iden­tify and ac­quire new and in-de­mand skills. Stay ahead of the curve by mon­i­tor­ing eco­nomic trends, and cre­ate a plan to stay in de­mand.

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