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Friday, October 21, 2016

A new Washington Post report reveals how the value of full-time work in the United States has declined – a trend that has ramifications for Americans and the overall economy.

Using employment data from 1999 and 2013, the Post’s Pam Tobey demonstrates how the nation’s 10 most common jobs – 9 of which also constituted the top 10 jobs in 1999 – now offer pay significantly reduced from 14 years ago.

Despite higher numbers of employees in 9 of the top 10 occupational fields, as exhibited in the below chart, workers were paid significantly less in 2013 than in 1999.

Employment Charts

In 2013, just as in 1999, the two most common occupations in the United States were retail sales and cashier jobs, respectively. In 2013, the average annual pay for the 4.49 million retail salespeople was $25,370. For 3.34 million cashiers in 2013, the average annual pay was $20,420.

Fourteen years ago, however, pay – adjusted to meet 2013 inflation rates – for 3.37 million retail salespeople and 3.16 million cashiers was significantly higher: $26,861 and $21,380, respectively.

chart reduced pay

Additionally, in 2013, “food preparation and service workers” – including fast-food workers – constituted the third most common occupation in the nation, with 3.02 million workers. In 1999, it was the ninth most common job, with only 1.95 million workers. Still, the average annual pay for foodservice workers decreased from $19,311 in 1999 to $18,880 in 2013.

Among the most common jobs in 2013, only registered nurses and restaurant servers experienced increased pay. Registered nurses made, on average, $68,910 a year. Restaurant workers made $20,880 a year.

In other words, 8 out of the 10 most common jobs in the nation have decreased in value. The problem is especially significant today, considering that one-fifth of total U.S. employment comprises the 10 most common occupations of 2013. As Tobey points out, the reduced pay means that “depending on the size of the families, some of these pay scales are close to the poverty level.”

Also startling is that registered nurses “are the only above average-paying job category in the 10 that remains from 1999” – another indicator of reduced value among millions of U.S. jobs.

As the nation continues to grapple with a full economic recovery, evidence of income inequality continues to mount.

Charts via The Washington Post

Photo: Xcode via Flickr


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  • paulyz

    According to these graphs, the most highly skilled, Registered Nurses”, where it takes more education, while serving a vital need, has dropped in pay. Many of the starter type jobs haven’t dropped as much.

  • CPAinNewYork

    No doubt about it. The rich and the business types are riding high. Wages are declining while prices are increasing.

    All hail the rich American scum.

  • Dominick Vila

    The minimum wage in Australia and New Zealand is about double what ours is, and the minimum wage in several EU countries is much higher than ours. Mercifully, ours is higher than the minimum wage in Sierra Leone. 🙁

  • charles king

    You, the People has let the Capitalistic Pigs take over your Democracy and feed you liabilities in the form of taxes, rent, food, insurance,engergy and all the things you think you need, except JOBS to make MONIES to pay for all of these needs we think we need to exist. Wake-up People and start doing some Critical Thinking. What? you need is better management from your elected officials, Who? are playing games with your Democracy and (divide and Conquer) of the have and the have-nots. Where? is your Democracy and What? the hell is going on in America When? so call (Commissioniers) has more power than your President. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All. P. S. Keep your e y e open on these Plutocracts in Small-town U S A. Mr. C. E. KING

  • ps0rjl

    Quit voting for those who refuse to support a new minimum wage. The job creators aren’t the wealthy but rather the common people who take a chance and open a new business. If the minimum wage was raised then that money would be spent within the community and would have a positive effect. The rich and Wall Street don’t spend that much to stimulate the economy.