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