California Money

By Chris Kirkham
August 30, 2014

California’s economic recovery has featured a growing share of lower-wage jobs, raising concerns about the opportunities for middle-class workers hit hard by the Great Recession, a new analysis finds.

The California Budget Project, a nonprofit economic research group, analyzed decades of state labor data to find that low- and middle-wage workers have seen significant pay declines over the last decade.

Local and state government jobs — traditionally a reliable source of middle-class employment — have been particularly slow to recover.

“Persistent weakness in the public sector job market is undermining the overall strength of the economic recovery,” the report found. “Simply recovering from the Great Recession will not be sufficient to ensure broad-based economic growth that reaches workers across the wage distribution.”

Over the last year, California has added jobs at one of the fastest rates in the nation, and the state unemployment rate has declined faster than the national average. But the state’s current unemployment rate of 7.4% is at a level “typically seen during recessions, rather than this far into an economic recovery,” according to the analysis.

The current unemployment rate is still higher than at any time during the last recession in 2001, after the dot-com bust.

“The labor market is moving in the right direction, but for many California workers the current economic recovery is not yet strong enough to heal the scars left by the Great Recession,” the report says.

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