Unfinished Business

More Jobs Does Not Equal Economic Growth

By Quaila Hugh, a Summer 2014 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern

Six and a half years after the start of the Great Recession we have finally recovered the jobs we lost, according to employment data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate, however, is unchanged. Why?

As the country has grown, so has the number of jobs needed to support our expanding population. Reports estimate that we need about 7 million more jobs to keep up with the growth of the potential workforce. Further, not all jobs are created equal. According to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project, employment gains have been concentrated in lower-wage industries, where we’ve seen 44 percent of new jobs created. Only 22 percent of these jobs, however, were lost during the Great Recession.

This makes efforts to raise the minimum wage more relevant than ever. If low-wage jobs continue to replace the mid- and high-wage jobs our economy lost, our economy will struggle to see the growth it needs for families to make ends meet. Minimum wage is not a living wage. And around the country, people are demanding that Congress raise it.