San Diego County lost 52,000 middle-wage jobs (paying $38,000 to $56,000 a year) between 2004 and 2014, according to new data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"What we have been failing to do is find strategies that foster job growth in industries that require middle level skills that pay middle class wages," says Erik Bruvold, president of the National University System Institute for Policy Research.
For example, the San Diego employment picture has gone from construction workers building homes to bartenders building martinis. Since 2004, the county has lost 23,000 construction jobs, but it has gained 23,000 restaurant jobs. Since restaurant jobs pay much less than construction jobs, that represents a loss of buying power. In the ten years, construction jobs have declined from 7 percent of the total to 5 percent.
The county has also lost 6000 manufacturing jobs, which feature higher incomes, in the past decade. Low-wage jobs have gone up 4780 while high-wage/high-skill jobs have grown by 77,000. This dynamic illustrates a "hollowing out" of the economy, says Bruvold.