Where Did All of the Middle Wage Jobs Go?

John Krautzel
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The U.S. economy is booming in 2018 with many new jobs, but most of the growth is taking place in low wage and high wage occupations. Growth in middle wage jobs is much slower, accounting for only a quarter of the new jobs that are predicted to become available between 2018 and 2023.

Studies define middle wage occupations as those that pay between $14.18 and $23.59 per hour. If the median wage for a particular occupation is in this range, the job is defined as middle wage, even though some people working in that role might earn more or less income.

Part of the problem is that some occupations are expected to lose middle wage jobs between 2018 and 2023. Over this five-year period, middle wage occupations will account for 58 percent of job losses.

Some middle wage jobs in the tech industry could disappear as technology displaces workers. To beat the decline in middle wage jobs, workers need to develop their skills to handle shifts in the industry's demand for workers. With the right training, some workers in this sector can move up into high skilled, high wage jobs.

Although middle wage jobs are expected to decline overall, there are some middle wage occupations that will increase between 2018 and 2023. Demand for customer service representatives, medical assistants, licensed vocational nurses, delivery service drivers, maintenance and repair workers and construction laborers is likely to increase over this time period. Some of these increases are driven by the increasing demand for health care due to the aging population. Meanwhile, growth in construction reflects overall growth in the U.S. economy.

Out of these middle wage jobs that are expected to grow, the largest increase is expected to be in customer service representative roles. Many companies are looking for skilled representatives to help them offer a better service to their customers.

Although the unemployment rate in the United States is very low in 2018, wages are not as high as you might expect given the fact that companies have to compete to attract workers. This is partly because a lot of people are currently working more than one job or looking for an extra job to help them make ends meet. To get by, many young people work more than one low paying job, instead of working a graduate level middle wage job.

With middle wage jobs not growing as quickly as low wage or high wage jobs, many workers in the U.S. are struggling to find suitable roles. One solution for these workers is to develop advanced skills that allow them to move out of middle wage jobs and into higher paying occupations, which are set to significantly grow in number between 2018 and 2023.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Mary Lou E. thanks so much for your comment. I totally agree. Why no Americans? Because they can pay these people next to nothing for the same job that they would have to pay you at least minimum wage. It's all about the bottom line for the company. I refuse to speak to them. If I can't understand them, I will ask to speak to their supervisor or someone who can speak English clearly. I have noticed, over the past few years, that more and more companies want you to do a "chat" via their website rather than call them. This way they don't have to man their phones 24/7 - which can be quite an expense. They only have to pay a few customer service reps to handle online chats.


    If you call just about any business for customer service, or for example, an auto insurance quote, you most likely will end up speaking [or attempting] to someone in the UK. If you call Greyhound, Boost Mobile, plus many large companies, those people are in Costa Rica, the Philippines, several assorted "NON-AMERICAN" countries. So, if you check to see why, you learn, if you can understand the strong accents, these companies have no American service people. What the heck!! Why can't Americans be doing these jobs?

  • Suzan E.
    Suzan E.

    I am 55 years old and I am licensed to work as an occupational therapy assistant. I'm currently employed at 4 companies!! I am considering a license for a professional project manager or getting a 3rd degree and/or teaching license or considering getting a master's degree. HELP!!! Does anyone know of a career counselor in the Hampton Roads area??? THANK YOU!!

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