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News : US Economy Last Updated: Apr 3, 2013 - 11:24 AM

Clerical workers suffer big job losses in the US and UK
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Apr 3, 2013 - 8:44 AM

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Data from the US and UK shows that the number of clerical workers has fallen sharply in the US and the UK during the Great Recession while other occupational sectors have grown, with implications for the middle class and income inequality.

Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on occupational data for 821 job categories, which showed that in May 2012 the US had gained 387,000 managers and lost almost 2m clerical jobs since 2007, as new technologies replaced office workers. Last November, the Financial Times reported that net UK employment had grown more than 750,000 since a low point in early 2010.

While UK wages have been cut in real terms coupled with a rise in part-time and temporary work and self-employment, jobs in professional occupations - -  which include lawyers, accountants and management consultants - - had grown more than 230,000, or 4.4%, since early 2010, the fastest increase of any group. The second fastest rise was in associate professional and technical occupations, which range from engineering technicians and IT support staff to financial advisers, graphic designers and sports coaches. Management positions had also grown.

The sharpest fall of 160,000 or 4.8%, was among administrative and secretarial staff. Process, plant and machine operators are fewer, as are skilled trades, which include electricians and machine fitters. But at the bottom end, elementary occupations - - a category that includes waiters, bar staff, kitchen assistants, security guards and cleaners - - were up 2.5%.

In the US, jobs growth has come from healthcare, management, computing and food services. Reflecting an ageing population in the US, the number of personal care aides is up 390,000 since 2007. Demand for people who can replace clerical workers e.g operations managers, management analysts and logisticians, grew sharply.

The average wage for a clerical job in 2012 was $34,410 compared with $24,550 for a position in personal care. The average computing wage was $80,180 and $108,570 for managers.

Clerical work accounts for 16% of US jobs.

The median (50% above the level and 50% below) annual household income in February 2013 of $51,404 [pdf] was 5.6% lower than the median of $54,437 in June 2009, the end of the recent recession and beginning of the “economic recovery.” The February 2013 median was 7.3% lower than the median of $55,438 in December 2007, the beginning month of the recession that occurred more than five years ago.

McKinsey Global Institute said in a report in 2001: "Technology is changing the nature of work: Jobs are being disaggregated into tasks, work is becoming virtual, and firms are relying on flexible labor (temporary, contract workers). These trends offer new opportunities for creating jobs in the United States, a trend that some companies do not fully appreciate."

However, it's not an attractive situation for many middle class people while those at the to of the pyramid command most of the gains.

Writing for Tax Analysts, a non-profit tax news and analysis organization, Pulitzer Prize-winning tax policy journalist David Cay Johnston reports that between 1966 and 2011, average inflation-adjusted income of the bottom 90% of US workers grew by a negligible $59. Meanwhile, income of the top 10% of workers soared by $116,071.

Meanwhile, the real value of UK workers wages fell back to 2003 levels in 2012, following several years of pay freezes and economic restructuring, according to official figures.

Company cash hoards rise to $8tn; Taxes, squeezed labour and 'trapped' cash

Check out our subscription service, Finfacts Premium , at a low annual charge of €25 - - if you are a regular user of Finfacts, 50 euro cent a week is hardly a huge ask to support the service.

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