Job Quality Index Rises as Low-Quality Jobs Fall in January

The Job Quality Index (JQI) rose 0.54 to 79.36 in the February reading as the decline in low-quality jobs prompted a small increase in the JQI. The JQI, produced by the Coalition for a Prosperous America in partnership with academics from Cornell Law School, measures the ratio of high-quality to low-quality jobs where high quality is defined as weekly wages above the mean weekly wage and low quality as weekly wages below the mean weekly wage. The JQI is limited to production and nonsupervisory (P&NS) workers, excluding management and business owners.

Today’s monthly report from the US Department of Labor said that total nonfarm employment rose by just 49,000 in January. In the last two months (January 2021 and December 2020), the leisure and hospitality sector has lost 597,000 jobs as business closed in response to an increased number of infections in the latest wave of the COVID pandemic. Job increases came primarily in education, as schools reopened, and professional and business services. Manufacturing jobs fell by 10,000 in January to 12.2 million, a level that is still 575,000 jobs below the January 2020 level.

The JQI report shows that the mean weekly wage for all P&NS workers was $801.17.

“The depressed level of the JQI, down 13 percent from 2006 levels, reflects the constant growth in low-quality i.e. low-paying jobs in the US economy over the past two decades. As we recover from the pandemic, we must as a nation focus on rebuilding high-quality, high-paying jobs, which is the only path towards broadly-based US prosperity,” said CPA Chief Economist Jeff Ferry.


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