By 2020, nearly one-third of American adults will have at least one job, up from just over one-quarter a decade ago, according to a new study from the National Center for Policy Analysis.
That figure is expected to grow to more than one in five by 2026, the study found.
“The rise of the technology sector is bringing jobs to a whole new group of Americans,” said Dan Schulman, the director of the Center for Applied Research on Workforce Innovation at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
“This is a new workforce that’s been left behind, but it’s also an under-served group that needs more economic opportunities,” he added.
For the study, the NCPA analyzed the median annual salary of all full-time workers in the United States.
For those with jobs that pay less than $30,000, the median salary is $27,600.
For people with jobs paying more than $50,000 a year, the average is $31,100.
While those with lower incomes earned significantly more than those with higher incomes, the analysis showed that the gap widened for people in the lower- and middle-income brackets.
“That’s because the cost of living is higher, so people at lower incomes are more vulnerable to this loss of income,” Schulmans said.
For example, people who earned $30 to $40,000 per year earned just $10,000 more per year than those who earned more than that.
In the upper-income bracket, the gap was $14,800 per year.
“It’s clear that we need to pay more attention to people who are not in the upper income bracket,” Schuilmans said, “and if you are a worker at a lower income, there’s less chance you’ll be able to earn more than the top 1 percent of earners.”
One reason the number of Americans in the middle- and lower-income income brackets is shrinking is that many of them have been forced out of the workforce due to automation, said Scott Bales, director of policy research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Automation and the associated economic upheaval has put the squeeze on the labor market.
And it’s been particularly bad for people of color.
“In the years after the Great Recession, there were a lot of people who were out of work,” Bales said.
“They were leaving their homes and going to work in new, more automated jobs.”
To get a sense of the impact of automation on the U.S. labor market, the report compared workers’ wages to those of the same workers in other countries.
For those who had no job in the past year, those who did had a median salary of $26,400.
In comparison, for those who have a job, that’s $23,600, and for those with more than a job that’s more than half a million dollars.
The report found that even in places like Europe, where there are more people with less than a college degree, the labor force participation rate is at its highest level in at least two decades.
In Europe, the unemployment rate has fallen to a record low of 5.4 percent, and the number working has grown from 2.3 million in the first quarter of 2020 to 4.7 million in 2021, the lowest in two decades, the UPI report said.
In addition, the percentage of workers over the age of 25 who are employed is at a record high, at 63 percent.
And although Europe has the lowest labor force, the United Sates has the highest, according the report.
In 2021, nearly 10 million people were unemployed, the most in more than three decades.
The data shows that despite the economic challenges, Americans are making sacrifices, including reducing spending.
In the past 12 months, Americans have cut their per capita spending by nearly $1,200, or 12 percent.
For the entire U.s. economy, that savings would be enough to cover the cost in 2019 of more than 20 percent of GDP.
While the numbers of Americans making the sacrifice to save for a future is impressive, it is dwarfed by those who are making the choice to not work, the researchers said.
“People are not putting in the work to save to take care of their families, to support their children, to pay the bills,” Schuyler said.
Some people are not saving.
Instead, they are choosing to work less, to do other things that they are more likely to regret later, said Schuilimans.
And if the trend continues, that could mean that some of those people could be unable to find jobs that they enjoy, like bartending, he added, noting that some jobs are even in decline in many areas.
“If the unemployment rates continue to fall, there will be fewer jobs,” Schurman said.
And that could hurt those with children.