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