Job Quality Index Edges Up Slightly as High and Low Quality Jobs Rise

WASHINGTON — The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) today announced that the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI) edged up by a tiny 0.016% in January to 84.11 as high-quality and low-quality jobs each rose in the month.

Hospital jobs rose by 12,000 to 4.821 million while full-service restaurant employment rose by 31,000 to a total of 4.794 million. Hospital employment is on average high quality, i.e. its average weekly wage for production and nonsupervisory workers was $1414.70 in January, above the national average of $965.60. Full-service restaurant jobs are low-quality with average weekly wages for production and nonsupervisory employees at $467.71.

The average weekly wage for production and nonsupervisory workers in January came in at $965.60, up 0.26% on the previous month and 5.46% on the year-earlier figure. That annual increase is below the January rate of annual consumer price inflation of 6.4%. Low-quality weekly wages did even worse, up 5.14%. year-on-year. Inflation typically hits the incomes of lower-wage workers harder than high-wage workers because they have less bargaining power in the labor market.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the U.S. added 311,000 workers to nonfarm payrolls in February, with the unemployment rate up slightly to 3.6%. Manufacturing employment fell slightly, by 4,000 to 12.983 million, indicating slowing growth in the manufacturing sector.

The Job Quality Index measures job quality for U.S. production and non-supervisory workers by comparing workers’ weekly wages to the mean weekly wage for all non-supervisory workers. Those jobs above the mean are classified as high-quality and those below the mean are low-quality. The JQI is down 12.7% from 1990 (see Figure 1), when the current data series begins, illustrating the aggressive growth in low-quality jobs, which are low-wage and often low-hour too.

Figure 1. Job Quality Index 1990-2023


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