From 2001 to 2010, the country lost 1.8 million jobs. What was gained between 2001 and 2007 was lost, and then some, from 2008 – 2010. (Job gains in 2011 and so far in 2012 have been modest.) In terms of income—our primary focus—growth was slow. And as we explore in more detail below, most of the gains came from transfer payments rather than employment earnings or investment income growth. For the country to do well—to become more prosperous—those trends will have to be reversed. Slow private sector employment and employment earnings growth, combined with strong transfer payment growth, is not a path to a sustainable rising standard of living.
In 2010 there were 127.8 million jobs in the United States, a decline of 1.8 million (-1.4%) from 2001. Underneath the poor jobs record of the decade is the continuing divergence between the high and the low education attainment sectors.
The same story, high education attainment industries growing and low education attainment industries declining, holds for average wages as well. The average wage for all jobs in America in 2010 was $46,749, a gain of 4.8% from 2001. In the high education attainment sectors the average wage was $62,052, a gain of 6.2%. In the low education attainment sectors the average wage was $34,732, a decline of 0.7% from 2001.
- Private sector employment earnings per capita in 2010 was $23,700, a loss of $1,178 (-4.7%) from 2001.
- Government employment earnings per capita in 2010 was $5,310 a gain of $713 (15.5%) from 2001.
- Personal income per capita from interest, dividends and rent was $6,693, a loss of $122 (-1.8%) from 2001.
- Transfer payments per capita in 2010 were $7,415, a gain of $2,184 from 2001 (41.8%).
The share of per capita income by component in 2001 compared to 2010 are:
- Private sector employment earnings: 64.9%/59.3%
- Government employment earnings: 12.0%/13.3%
- Interest, dividends and rent: 17.8%/16.8%
- Transfer payments: 13.6%/18.6%