What's Happening to Middle Wage Jobs?

Employers are hiring, according to Minnesota’s Job Vacancy Survey. There were 62,950 job openings in Minnesota in second quarter 2012, a 15.1 percent increase compared to one year ago and a 26.2 percent increase from last fall. These data suggest that the labor market is beginning to come back into alignment after the recession. But are job seekers finding opportunities with good wage prospects?


In total, 40 percent of Minnesota’s job openings were in middle-wage occupations, or jobs that offer a wage between $11.71 and $27.89 per hour. The top 10 middle-wage occupations with the most job openings include:


More than half of middle-wage job openings required training beyond high school.


Middle-Wage vs. Living-Wage Jobs

Middle-wage jobs are particularly important for job seekers who are looking to meet a basic needs monthly budget. A living wage can be defined by the average monthly expenditures on food, housing, health care, transportation, and other necessities needed to support an individual or families of varying sizes.


The JOBS NOW Coalition’s Family Wage and Budget Calculator estimates the wage needed to support one adult working full-time with average basic needs monthly expenditures at $11.38 to $13.77 per hour, depending on health care costs, in Minnesota. A basic needs budget for a family of four (two adults and two children) would require two full-time workers to make $13.55 to $16.14 per hour, or one full-timer worker to make $15.78 to $23.49 per hour.


Middle-wage jobs correspond to the wages needed to support individuals and families defined in the table below.


The budget calculator can be customized to the basic needs expenditures by county or expenditures entered by the user.


A more in-depth version of this article appeared in the August 2012 issue of Minnesota Employment Review.


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