Job Quality Index Falls to 81.67 as More Service Sector Workers Return to Work

WASHINGTON — The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) today announced that the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI) fell slightly to 81.67 in August, down 0.91% from the previous month, as low-quality jobs increased in sectors including food service, hospitality, and arts/recreation. The relative wage in manufacturing sectors including medical equipment and plastic product manufacturing fell, making those sectors low-quality on the latest JQI reading.

The average weekly wage of production and non-supervisory workers rose slightly to $883.82, and is now 4.9 percent above its year-ago level. Wages are rising strongly in some low-quality sectors, up for example by 13.7 percent in limited-service restaurants. However across the entire economy, weekly wages are rising at levels close to the rate of consumer inflation, which was 5.3 percent in August.

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 small decline in the JQI reflects a healthy increase in low-quality jobs as service sector industries slowly but steadily emerge from the COVID-related economic crisis. Employees appear to be willing to stay out of work longer as they reconsider their options in an economy that is increasingly dependent on low-quality jobs. This is the moment to seize the opportunity truly to build back better and stimulate the growth of high-quality jobs, especially manufacturing jobs,” said CPA chief economist Jeff Ferry.

Employment Data

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the U.S. added 194,000 workers to payrolls in August. The figure was again disappointing. Manufacturing jobs rose by 26,000 with the largest increases in fabricated metal and machinery manufacturing.


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