This week, I've been looking at where the jobs will be in America over the next decade. My last post looked at blue-collar jobs. Today I turn the fastest growing job category of all - low-skill service jobs.
More than 60 million American workers do this kind of low-wage service work. And by 2020, these jobs are projected to make up more than roughly half of all projected new jobs – 9.7 million, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics projections.
My colleague Charlotta Mellander of the Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) used the BLS projections to forecast service-class job growth across U.S. metros based on their current mix of jobs. The map below by Zara Matheson shows the geography of this growth.
No surprise: The biggest gainers in overall service jobs are the biggest metros. Greater New York tops the list with more than 381,098 projected new service-class jobs, followed by Los Angeles (249,810), Chicago (225,132), Houston (152,884), Atlanta (135,680), Philadelphia (131,241), Washington, D.C. (127,489), Dallas (125,620), Phoenix (116,437), and Minneapolis (112,892).
But job growth is a function of population size; so the next map plots the projected percentage change in service-class jobs for U.S. metros.
Using this metric, two Texas metros – Brownsville (16.3 percent) and McAllen (16 percent) – top this list, followed by Mankato, Minnesota (15.8 percent), Duluth, Minnesota (15.8 percent), Goldsboro, North Caroline (15.7 percent), Rochester, Minnesota (15.7 percent), Pittsfield, Massachusetts (15.6 percent), Alexandria, Louisiana (15.2 percent), Waterbury, Connecticut (15 percent), and Johnstown, Pennsylvania (14.9 percent).
While no large metros (those with more than one million people) are among the leaders in percentage of service-class job growth, some are projected to do quite well. New York leads the pack with a projected service-class growth of 15.5 percent (ranking 29th out of all metros). It is followed by Hartford, Connecticut (14.3 percent), Rochester, New York (14.2 percent ), Camden, New Jersey (14.2 percent ), Milwaukee, Wisconsin (14.2 percent ), and Detroit, Michigan (14.2 percent).
President Barack Obama's current jobs strategy neglects service jobs in favor of manufacturing. That's a prescription for failure. A comprehensive jobs strategy must put service jobs and service workers front and center.
The key is to see service-class workers as sources of innovation, continuous improvement, and productivity gains. Research by my Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) team shows that engaging these workers' skills can simultaneously boost productivity and wages.
To do this, Americans may have to consider paying more for services. Henry Ford long ago argued that auto workers should make enough money to afford the cars they made. As part of post-war social contract, which created a broad middle class, blue-collar jobs were elevated to good ones, and Americans collectively all paid a little more for manufactured products.
If we want to combat inequality, create millions of good jobs, and make it possible for millions more to enter the middle class, we must do the same for service workers today.
In my next post, I will look at the places where you are more likely to find a higher-skill, knowledge-based, creative class job in the future.