How All The Good Jobs Disappeared

gas crisis

Photo: footagefile via YouTube

Between 1979 and 2010, jobs paying at least $37,000 per year and having health insurance and a  retirement plan fell from 27.4 per cent in 1979 to 24.6 per cent in 2010.It never should have happened — the American workforce is older and better-educated than ever before right?

The centre for Economic and Policy Research’s John Schmitt and Janelle Jones wanted to know what went wrong. 

In their study Where Have All The Good Jobs Gone? (via Matt Yglesias), they blame falling unionization rates, deregulation, trade policy, immigration and an obsession with inflation at the expense of job creation.

Whether you agree or disagree with that conclusion, the following 9 charts show a clear decline in “good” jobs began right around 1980, and that rather than clotheslining an apparently perpetual boom, the 2008 financial crisis caused us to return to a mean.

Using the current distribution of workers by age and education in 2010 and substituting the corresponding rate of good jobs held by each group in 1979, they show that if not for those harmful factors, the country’s “good” jobs rate would today be at 34.2 per cent, not the 24.6 per cent at which it currently stands.


Photo: CEPR


First, the workforce snapshot. Education levels have gone way up

Well, so has the average worker's age

But looking at the past 30 years, it's basically gotten us nowhere

Younger workers have been hardest hit

And the value of a college education has regressed

You can forget about retiring

And you're lucky if you have health care

The only silver lining is women

But even here, a significant earnings gap remains

NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at