This Is Bernanke's Minimum-Wage "Recovery" In Facts And Figures

Tyler Durden's picture

A suddenly seemingly hawkish Ben Bernanke may be giving the impression he is preparing to taper because he feels confident enough about the recovery (just don't ask him about sudden dramatic rises in yields: that "puzzles" him). Yet as those who have been reading Zero Hedge for the past three years know, this jobs "recovery" is purely quantitative (not to mention seasonally adjusted): the quality of jobs regained is, in a word, abysmal, with the bulk of new job creation benefiting part-time and minimum-wage jobs. If anything, this loss of saving power, is the backdrop not for a recovery, but for a depression far more acute than the current "sugar-high" one when the Fed finally pulls the training wheels off, and when the US consumer realizes that all purchasing power is gone, all gone, and in exchange the only valuable and competitive job skills gained have been, well, absolutely none.

Here are the facts from the NELP:

During the recession, employment losses occurred throughout the economy, but were concentrated in mid-wage occupations. By contrast, during the recovery, employment gains have been concentrated in lower-wage occupations, which grew 2.7 times as fast as mid-wage and higher-wage occupations. Specifically:

  • Lower-wage occupations were 21 percent of recession losses, but 58 percent of recovery growth.
  • Mid-wage occupations were 60 percent of recession losses, but only 22 percent of recovery growth.
  • Higher-wage occupations were 19 percent of recession job losses, and 20 percent of recovery growth.

2 The lower-wage occupations that grew the most during the recovery include retail salespersons, food preparation workers, laborers and freight workers, waiters and waitresses, personal and home care aides, and office clerks and customer representatives.

3 The unbalanced recession and recovery have meant that the long-term rise in inequality in the U.S. continues. The good jobs deficit is now deeper than it was at the start of the 21st century:

  • Since the first quarter of 2001, employment has grown by 8.7 percent in lower-wage occupations and by 6.6 percent in higher-wage occupations.
  • By contrast, employment in mid-wage occupations has fallen by 7.3.

In addition, the wages paid by these occupations has changed. Between the first quarters of 2001 and 2012, median real wages for lower-wage and mid-wage occupations declined (by 2.1 and 0.2 percent, respectively), but increased for higher-wage occupations (by 4.1 percent).

4 Industry dynamics are playing an important role in shaping the unbalanced recovery. We find that three low-wage industries (food services, retail, and employment services) added 1.7 million jobs over the past two years, fully 43 percent of net employment growth. At the same time, better-paying industries (like construction; manufacturing; finance, insurance and real estate; and information) did not grow, or did not grow enough to make up for recession losses. Other better-paying industries (like professional and technical services) saw solid growth, but not in their mid-wage occupations. And steep cuts in state and local government have hit mid- and higher-wage occupations the hardest.

In short, America’s good jobs deficit continues. Policymakers have understandably been focused on the urgent goal of getting U.S. employment back to where it was before the recession (we are still missing nearly 10 million jobs), but the above findings underscore that job quality is rapidly emerging as a second front in the struggling recovery.

* * *

And while the Fed is finally thinking about the labor force participation rate as a factor in explaining the unemployment rate (after ignoring it for the entire period it was helping to push the unemployment rate lower), the smartest economists in the room have glaringly forgotten that not all jobs are created equal and that a part-time WalMart greeter "job" is just a little less equal than a Goldman Sachs CEO "job."

Of course, if the Fed wasn't blatantly ignorant of the smallest and most obvious details, it wouldn't have to monetize $2.5 trillion in securities just to undo the mistakes of its previous failed attempt at central planning.

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kliguy38's picture

You're all scheduled for slavery before these psychopaths are finished........circuses and bread for the peeps

Jorgen's picture

Computer chips, potato chips, what's the difference? 

Michael Boskin, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors in the early 1980's

shermacman's picture

Did you see what Kim Kardashian was wearing on E! tonight?!???!?!?!?!!!

stinkhammer's picture

ben bernanke is douche bag

max2205's picture

Undo? I don't see any undo'ngs

I am Jobe's picture

Does one qualify for a 300k or 400K Homeloan with this wage ? Just askin? Sure the American dream is alive and well

Duc888's picture

Hey man, don't diss him.  I've always wanted 6 fukken Mcjobs.  Hopefully my kids will have 8 or 10 shitbag part time Mcjobs.



Remember, ya'll gotta VOTE.  Give your 100% consent to Uncle Sham ripping you a new asshole!


JJ McApe's picture

jobs got outsourced and will not come back.

greedy corporations like slave labor. and now everyone is wondering why sales and quality of living are going down...

ben keeps the house of cards alive.

Uber Vandal's picture

Don't forget about automation, jobs simply eliminated, and whatever is left is supposed to wear all the hats, at the same, or less, pay.

If one has the misfortune of setting foot inside of a Freak-Mart store lately, how many people do you see providing FREE LABOR to the store in the form of "self check out" for they are "convenient"? Or, how the greeters are now gone at many stores.




Bananamerican's picture

went to Target yesterday to stock up on cheap cereal...

The men's/women's clothing aisle carried a small selection of THE ugliest, most threadbare, peasant togs I've ever seen in my life...not even the "hip-swingin, remember when you were great amerika?, retro, low thread count crap they used to have.....

I thought, now they're just rubbing it in...

Same thing with surveillance...Now they're just rubbing it in...

Same thing with Syria, the FED's Bankster easy-chair, the quality of amerikan popular culture, edumacation and these jobs numbers...

not even trying to hide shit anymore...

Solarman's picture

Personalize your comment. when you buy something or a service from someone, do you not look for the best value? Of course you do.  Are you greedy, no you are rational.  Why would corporations be any different.


The problems is when politicitician intervene and create unbalanced landscapes like government or union workers, or subsidize certain businesses, farmers, or unions.

Socialist and communist countries always try to right the wrong you point out, and it creates shortages, low quality and still an elite class that takes everything.


We need to jubilee the debt/carry cost down per rata, per year for everyone and allow prices to fall to clearing levels at the same time.

James_Cole's picture

Personalize your comment. when you buy something or a service from someone, do you not look for the best value? Of course you do.  Are you greedy, no you are rational.  Why would corporations be any different.

So when you get a renovation done on your house you hire 12 year olds from a third world country and pay them a few dollars a day to work 14hr shifts 6 days a week? 

Fair point, I gotta figure out how to do that. 

sethstorm's picture

The problem with your comment is that businesses view freedom as a problem if held by dissimilar people(such as those who do not run a business).  This can be evidenced by the choice of business to use countries and populations that give freedoms (and assistance in defense) to business owners but do not give same to the rest of the population(and ensure that it stays that way).  You may be able to choose from a variety of trinkets, but your government will step in to defend the manufacturer against you.

James_Cole's picture

The problem with your comment is that businesses view freedom as a problem if held by dissimilar people(such as those who do not run a business

And an even bigger problem when held by the competition. 

Number one, cash is king... number two, communicate... number three, buy or bury the competition.

-Jack Welch 

sethstorm's picture

If one wants to know why loyalty may have disappeared between business and employee, Jack Welch is the first place to look.  By instituting the Neutron Bomb policy and treating employees like chattel, he set a dangerously un-American precedent.


That, and competition doesnt really matter if enough businesses have monopsony-like power in the labor market.  They all give the worst possible conditions and the lowest prices in a market of desperation. 


Shizzmoney's picture

This article doesn't even cover the declining/waning/extinct benefits and pension savings that is occuring (which eats into the purchasing power of already meager wages).

The thing is: those who make 300, 250, 100K a year.......they don't feel "it" yet.  They will either by a) the stock market (and their 401k) crashing or b) they wake up to find looters eating in their kitchen.

Tyler will not make many friends in DC or in Wall Street with this headline.....expect a propaganda retort shortly.

Duc888's picture

Nonsense, plenty of Mcjobs around.  Ya just gotta pass a background check that Obama can't do.


Vote early.  Vote often.

Beg the massa to slip you the weenie!

Thery need your CONSENT!


Bananamerican's picture

"Hey man, there's 'Dignity In ANY Labor™'. I'll take THREE Mcjobs before I touch any .gov handouts!!" (//sarc/)

Duc888's picture

Shizzmoney, stop whining and man up.

Grab a Mcjob or 4.


Oh yea, and "Vote" 'cause it's the right thing to do.


Got a son?  Got a daughter?   Their kidney will fetch you some good money.

involuntarilybirthed's picture

 While middle class America is at work Ben Bernanke speaks and sucks more blood from their 401ks and IRAs.   All done while people are at work, what a scheme. 

Duc888's picture

You are a resource to be tapped and bled to death.


get over it.


Atomizer's picture

Dear Mr. Chairman Bernanke,


You have a very unique position for the controlling interest groups. May I offer a suggestion? As the days tick by on the unwinding of your position as the Federal Reserve Chairman, might it be beneficial to clear the record by explaining why you have conducted yourself in the fashion you did? It won’t be long until they find out the truth on their own. Risks have consequences, odds are pointing against you. You can go from zero to hero fairly quickly.

Ponder over that, I sincerely hope you can prosper in your next endeavor. Trust & honesty is the building block to any prevailing success.




thestarl's picture

Just imagine if all those trillions of dollars spent on catastrophic unwinnable wars and bailing out TBTF arseholes had have been invested in infrastructure, education,R& D what could've been.

Watching these fucking G8 cunts strutting around makes me want to puke,they're totally clueless no wonder WE 'RE fucked.  

NotApplicable's picture

Why waste time imagining what the mafia would do, only if they'd stop being so same evil, for once?  All that does is to further reinforce their facade of legitimacy.

Yes_Questions's picture



Don't you understand?  Petrodollar Status quo is an investment.


Its the only infrastructure the strutting clueless have any clue about.



Midasking's picture

This is going to end even worse than I imagine.... and that is saying something!

Atomizer's picture



This whole issue over immigration is about bringing in new slave labor to become more competitive with other 3rd world globalized labor hot spots. The concept is simple, jump start new business in the USA.

Cons: We don’t know if these new slaves will cause havoc on the existing/maturing slave labor groups.

spooz's picture

Surprise, surprise, its not the English majors that are most underemployed:

"According to PayScale's "Underemployment In America" report released on Tuesday, graduates who studied business management and administration were 8.2 times more likely to be underemployed compared to their classmates.

This ratio of underemployment is almost twice as high as for English majors, who were 4.6 times more likely to be underemployed than their peers."

..."The problem with business majors is that it's so common," Katie Bardaro, lead economist at PayScale, tells us. "There's so many of them and not enough jobs to go around." 

Read more:"

NotApplicable's picture

My first statistics class had quite a few business majors. They were literally some of the dumbest kids on campus.

noless's picture

I can't imagine a fresh ba in business not getting totally fucked this way and that in the current environment, just too many landmines, like a fucking officer strait out of academy getting placed with a crew on their third tour..

NoWayJose's picture

The ONLY thing Bernanke can say is that the economy is improving. He would look like a (bigger) fool if he says - we are pumping $85 billion a month and the economy is getting WORSE? Why, he might even fudge numbers so they back whatever he says...

Main Street is broke or deep in debt. Because there was no real economic crash, there cannot be a recovery because none of the leverage or excess was wrung out like in a normal correction.

Jack Burton's picture

Many comments above point to the real nature of the recovery. In the USA what passes for recovery is a full on race to the bottom. Once the manufacturing left for China we replaced the lost income with bubbles in stocks and housing, plus a massive credit bubble. We also sent every family member but our dogs out to work. Well, this extended the wealth illusion for some time. But now that time is up. As wages crash at the bottom and deflate in the middle, they explode at the top. This is documentable.

Now we have nothing left but to race to the bottom, we race to get down to Chinese and thrid world standards. Government and corporations both work to make Americans competitive again. This means lower wages, lower benefits, no health insurance and little or no vacation or job security.

The world is now one global labor market. There is no reason an American should be paid top dollar to write computer code or to do the engineering on a bridge or building. These functions are skills that can be learned in India or China. Corporations seek to grow profits. If Indians can cut into former good paying middle class jobs, well then the corporations owe Americans nothing.

The rub is that the race to the bottom is climbing the labor market food chain. It ain't just the welder or machine tool operator or factor floor manager. No, the global labor market is cutting deeper into middle class jobs.

Americans enjoy lower prices at the stores, even as they lose wages and benefits. Corporations seek maximum profits even while losing customers whose incomes are crashing.

Where this all sorts out is anyones guess. But the street demonstrations rising up in Brazil, Turkey and across the Middle East are tied to low wages or no jobs, higher food prices etc. etc.

The race to the bottom is cheered on by stock holders as their holdings rise in value based on the rising corporate profits.

It will eventually be sorted out in revolutions, repression and larger global conflicts. Even as the USA sinks into debt, it seeks to spend more trillions on wars against Syria and Iran. The US seeks a long term postion to crush Russia and even to challange China. We have sinking incomes for the 99% and government debt beyond extreme, but seek more global conquests. You have to ask yourself how insane the Global Power Eiltes really are. They seem to think they can ride this horse forever. I doubt that. In history, the greed of the elties spins out of control until the peoples revolt, then the blood flows in rivers.

123rainier's picture

> Jack Burton ,  well said

Duc888's picture

"The world is now one global labor market. There is no reason an American should be paid top dollar to write computer code or to do the engineering on a bridge or building"


Yup, such skillz in China.  Apartment buildings that fall over and Bridge abutments filled with stuffed animals.




Can't wait until they build that shit here.



Atomizer's picture

Who needs a computer when the NSA can spoon feed information thru the DHS mobile information alert bulletins?

REPORT: IBM Has Started To Lay Off Thousands Of Workers Worldwide

WTFUD's picture

BenDover i keep hearing is an expert on the Depression and i can vouch for that.
He's a fucking leach manipulated into doing what the fuck ever JPM and the rest of the good ol' boys tell him to do.

When the time comes and the classroom door is kicked off its hinges and the blade of the axe glints into those big puppy eyes the trembling lips will quiver " i was only following orders ".

Tombstone's picture

We have seen from the last two years that many company earnings have come from controlling costs verses flat revenues.  That means less hiring.  For most businesses, labor is the highest cost.  So, Mr Benny, what is going to drive higher revenues and possibly more, better paying jobs?  Nuddin' that the Fed is doing.  If you understood economics, you would know that QE cannot create sales and therefore hiring is going to be limited.  But the dumheads in Washington are still planning for a Communist, centrally planned nirvana.  And the markets get high smoking the QE crack pipe of joy.  Benny, you will need to take responsibility for the coming crash.