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article imageU.S. unemployment rate falls but earnings inequality widens

By Tim Sandle     Oct 7, 2018 in Business
Washington - The U.S. unemployment rate has fallen as the country moves close to 'full employment'. However, many of these jobs are not classed as 'good jobs' and wage inequality shows further signs of widening.
The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in September 2018. This is the lowest rate since December 1969, according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. During the same time period, the U.S. economy created 134,000 jobs during the month. According to analysis by the BBC, the biggest growth in U.S. job sectors was in professional and business services, healthcare and construction. Growth was not even across all sectors, with leisure and hospitality seeing a loss of jobs to the tune of 18,000.
There is more behind these figures, however. The very low unemployment rate reflects an increase in the number not looking for work. This means that if people do not register that they are looking for work they are not classified as unemployed. A rise in the proportion not registering for work has helped to reduce the percentage of the 'unemployed'.
How many of the new jobs are 'good' jobs will become an on-going matter of debate, partly framed by the definition of 'good' (which to some analysts includes whether jobs attract regular hours and benefits). Many of the newly created jobs have been taken by independent contractors or on short-term assignments (“gig economy.”) Such forms of employment are not secure, and recent analysis by Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz and Alan Krueger of Princeton University, reported by Bloomberg, indicates that the U.S. labor market is becoming more precarious.
It also stands that wage growth has not increased and wage inequality has not narrowed, a further sign that many of the newly crated jobs fall within less secure sectors of the economy. The share of incomes for those in the bottom half of the U.S. population has declined to around 12 percent, down from 20 percent in 1980.
The U.S. jobs market also continues to show a relatively wide gender inequality, for like-for-like roles. The latest analysis reveals that the average woman's unadjusted annual salary is between 78 to 82 percent of that of the average man's. The 82 percent variance is based on official U.S. government figures; with the 78 percent coming from alternative academic analysis. Furthermore, considering gender and ethnicity combined, all groups, with the exception of Asian men, lagged behind white men in terms of median hourly earnings, based on data provided by the firm Statista.
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