Dr. Mike Walden, Economist, NCSU - There are two big job questions we are facing: Will jobs come back and Where will the jobs be?
How is the job structure market changing? Our economy used to generate a job structure that was called "Fat in the MIddle"... We had a few very high paying jobs and few very low paying jobs most of the jobs in our economy were concentrated in the middle and that grew the great middle class in our country. Economists think now that the job structure is changing, it is becoming more shaped like a dumb bell: very fat at the top -- high paying jobs and very fat at the bottom -- low paying jobs and not as many in the middle.
I think this is occuring for a couple of reasons: the return of benefits for workers having a college degree and beyond has increased. So those jobs are in demand and people are getting those college degrees when they can see the income that goes along with them. At the bottom end of our economy, we're generating a lot of jobs in the personal services area - where you need people to help other people. Healthcare would be a good example of this - technicians and home health care aides, etc. - those are exploding numbers of jobs. And in the middle, for example our factory jobs, and we're still a manufaturing country, but we're not using a many people because many of those jobs have been replaced by technology and equipment.
he bottom line is there will be jobs for folks who don't go on and get advanced training, but they're going to be low paying. The really good jobs are going to require college degrees and we're not having as much of that glue, if you will, in the middle.