Since 2009, nearly a quarter of all new jobs in the U.S. — more than 1.1 million — have been in just five low-skill occupations, according to the most recent data from Economic Modeling Specialists International: food prep and serving workers (which includes fast food); personal care aides; retail salespersons; home health care aides; and waiters and waitresses.
Fifty-three percent of new jobs since the end of the recession have come in occupations that pay less than $13.83 per hour. Still, the further removed we get from the recession, the more high-wage job growth is likely to pick up — and with it will come more jobs and better earnings potential for lower-skilled workers.
This trend is reinforced by the findings of a new report from EMSI and CareerBuilder on America’s job outlook through 2017. The report makes clear that the labor market is becoming increasingly bifurcated, with the number of high- and low-wage jobs expected to expand at or near 5 percent through 2017, while in the middle-wage category, 75 percent of all occupations are projected to lose jobs.
Furthermore, for metro areas with strong projected job growth in high-wage occupations, low-wage job growth — especially in the service sector — is a natural corollary.
This concept of high-wage and low-wage job growth going hand-in-hand might sound strange, but it’s been well-documented by regional economists. Jobs created in high-wage, export-oriented industries do more than increase the number of well-paid workers in those industries; they also lead to job openings in lower-paying service industries in their city or region — which means more jobs for the baristas, cashiers, and retail clerks who make up a large portion of any local economy.
These are the cities that we project will add the most high-paying jobs through 2017. | By Joshua Wright, Forbes contributor and senior editor at EMSI
[Yahoo Homes editor's note: This slideshow introduction by Joshua Wright -- a Forbes contributor and senior editor of Economic Modeling Specialists International, or EMSI -- has been edited and condensed. Click here to read Wright's full analysis on Forbes.com.]