U.S. jobs gains concentrated in low-paying sectors: Fed official

2013-03-23 01:20:20 GMT2013-03-23 09:20:20(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Recent U.S. job gains had been largely concentrated in lower-wage occupations, evidence of the challenges facing the labor market, Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Raskin said here Friday.

Those low-paying jobs included retail sales, food preparation, manual labor, home health care and customer service, Raskin said in addressing the National Community Reinvestment Coalition Annual Conference.

"The Great Recession stands out for the magnitude of job losses we experienced throughout the downturn. These factors have hit low-and moderate-income Americans the hardest," Raskin said.

About two-thirds of all job losses resulting from the recession were in moderate-wage occupations, including manufacturing and skilled construction. However, these occupations have accounted for less than one-quarter of subsequent job gains, she said.

While the current 7.7 percent U.S. unemployment rate was a marked improvement from the 10 percent rate in late 2009, it was still higher than the unemployment rate for the 24 years before the recession, a span of time over which the rate averaged about 6 percent, she said.

The U.S. government's current estimate of 12 million unemployed does not include nearly a million workers who have given up looking for work and 8 million people who say they were working part time but would prefer a full-time job. A broader measure of underemployment that includes these and other potential workers stands at 14.3 percent, she said.

Furthermore, U.S. wage growth had remained more muted than is typical during an economic recovery, partly driven by the low-paying nature of the jobs that had been created, Raskin said.

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