Job and wage growth: Strong growth in middle-wage jobs and rising wages for low-wage workers are hallmarks of inclusive growth. 

Insights & Analyses

  • Middle-wage jobs grew more slowly than high-wage and low-wage jobs between 1990 and 2021.

  • While earnings per worker increased by 81 percent for high-wage jobs, they only increased by 34 percent for low-wage jobs and 23 percent for middle-wage jobs.

  • Counties in Georgia, Colorado, and Texas ranked among the highest in job growth for both low-wage and high-wage jobs. 

  • Coastal states like California, Washington and Massachusetts saw the most dramatic gains in earnings for high-wage workers.

Drivers of Inequity

Reduced bargaining power among workers due to declines in union membership, a decreased average labor force participation, and growing trade with low-wage countries have resulted in stagnant wage and job growth rates over the past 30 years despite increases in productivity. Workers of color, and particularly Black workers, have felt the impact of this trend most heavily. This inequity is driven by a variety of historical factors such as racial segregation and policies that banned women and people of color from accessing education and higher paid professions. Ongoing factors, from biased hiring practices and inadequate childcare support to disparities in wealth, have also contributed to this inequity.


Grow an equitable economy: Policies to create good jobs for all

Strategy in Action

Emerald Cities Collaborative creates jobs and builds resilience. The Emerald Cities Collaborative is a network of unions, businesses, advocacy organizations, and local partners that are working to create jobs while making the environment more sustainable through large-scale building retrofit projects. Retrofits are the fastest, most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as create good, high-road jobs. Retrofitting just 40 percent of the building stock would create 625,000 jobs. Currently, five cities have Emerald Cities initiatives underway. Emerald Cities is also partnering with community colleges to retrofit buildings, train future workers, and connect local residents to the jobs created through targeted hiring strategies. Read more.

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