What ever happened to middle wage jobs?

Fastest growing occupations

High- and low-wage jobs are projected to outpace middle-wage job growth.

The good news: Between 2018 and 2023, U.S. jobs are projected to grow by 5.08 percent, adding over 8 million new jobs. The not-so-good news: Growth is expected to take place largely in high- and low-wage occupations, with middle-wage occupations lagging far behind.

According to a recent study by CareerBuilder, only about a quarter of the 8,310,003 new jobs added over the next five years will be in middle wage occupations.

The study found that high-wage occupations are expected to grow by 5.71 percent, and low-wage jobs will grow by 5.69 percent. Middle-wage occupations, however, will only increase by 3.83 percent.

Declining occupations

Looking at jobs projections for 774 occupations tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the study identified 121 occupations that will lose jobs between 2018 and 2023. Seventy-five of the occupations that will lose jobs are middle-wage.

Added up, these 121 occupations are projected to lose 369,879 jobs, with middle-wage occupations accounting for 58 percent of lost jobs.

All jobs are tech jobs

Many of the fastest-growing occupations are technology-based or have technological components. Workers hoping to capitalize on increasing demand for talent or to migrate to faster-growing industries should look for ways to add new tech-focused skills, and include any experience with technology on their resumes.

“Workers across all job levels will need to continually pursue opportunities to upskill in order to maneuver around accelerated shifts in labor demand,” says Irina Novoselsky, CEO of CareerBuilder. “This is a particularly pressing issue for middle-wage workers who are at greater risk for becoming displaced and workers in general who want to move up into better-paying jobs.”

Growth across wage categories

While middle-wage occupations aren’t expected to keep pace with high- and low-wage occupations, there are still many occupations in all three categories that are projected to add jobs. Some examples include:

Fast-Growing Occupations By Wage Category

2018 Jobs

2023 Jobs

Jobs Added 2018 to 2023

2018 to 2023

% Change

Median Hourly Earnings

High Wage

Registered Nurses

3,040,884

3,295,931

255,047

8.39%

$33.55

Software Developers, Applications

921,232

1,064,698

143,466

15.57%

$48.49

Postsecondary Teachers

1,530,589

1,641,544

110,955

7.25%

$33.53

Accountants and Auditors

1,428,748

1,514,827

86,079

6.02%

$32.33

Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists

660,150

743,337

83,187

12.6%

$30.21

Computer User Support Specialists

722,078

776,122

54,044

7.48%

$24.16

Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters

508,702

552,327

43,625

8.58%

$23.72

Middle Wage

Customer Service Representatives

2,864,930

2,985,603

120,673

4.21%

$15.88

Medical Assistants

705,056

807,330

102,274

14.51%

$15.62

Construction Laborers

1,404,290

1,496,472

92,182

6.56%

$14.73

Maintenance and Repair Workers, General

1,552,441

1,636,372

83,931

5.41%

$18.08

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

753,975

809,320

55,345

7.34%

$21.56

Light Truck or Delivery Service Drivers

954,204

1,003,041

48,837

5.12%

$15.04

Billing and Posting Clerks

515,706

559,989

44,283

8.59%

$17.85

Low Wage

Home Health Aides

926,500

1,134,232

207,732

22.42%

$11.17

Waiters and Waitresses

2,666,275

2,812,556

146,281

5.49%

$10.01

Retail Salespersons

4,574,115

4,682,344

108,229

2.37%

$11.29

Cooks, Restaurant

1,349,883

1,450,547

100,664

7.46%

$12.06

Nursing Assistants

1,522,723

1,619,107

96,384

6.33%

$13.23

Security Guards

1,210,962

1,272,926

61,964

5.12%

$12.97

Receptionists and Information Clerks

1,104,928

1,174,389

69,461

6.29%

$13.70

For the purposes of the study, low-wage occupations are defined as those with a median hourly pay of $14.17 or less; middle-wage occupations have a median hourly pay between $14.18-$23.59; and high-wage are occupations with median hourly pay of $23.24 or higher.

If you know what industry you want to work in, but aren’t sure how to get started, consider these great entry-level jobs by industry.