During her speech at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, first lady Michelle Obama painted her husband as a president who has created jobs like those held by her father and his grandmother, jobs they used to give their families greater opportunities.
“He brought our economy from the brink of collapse to creating jobs again -- jobs you can raise a family on, good jobs right here in the United States of America,” Obama said Tuesday night.
The only problem: that’s not exactly true.
The unfortunate reality is that most of the jobs created under President Barack Obama’s administration pay low wages. About three-fifths of the jobs created during the economic recovery are low-wage, while most of the jobs lost during the recession paid middle-wages, according to a recent study from the National Employment Law Project. More than 40 percent of the jobs created during the economic recovery have been in low-paying sectors like retail, food and employment services.
Certain states offer stark examples of the low-wage economy. For example, more than one-quarter of workers in Michigan have low-wage jobs, according to data from the Michigan League for Human Services cited by the Detroit Free Press.
There are a variety of reasons why workers find it hard to get a job that pays a decent wage. For one, state and local government jobs, usually well-paying, have taken a huge hit throughout most of the recovery. In addition, large corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s are relying on low-wage workers even as they net huge profits, according to a separate NELP report. And with the economic outlook uncertain, companies are squeezing more out of their workers instead of investing in hiring new ones.
The lack of well-paying jobs may be one reason why growing income inequality has also been a problem on President Obama’s watch. Between 2009 and 2010, the rich took home a greater share of the United States' income pie than from 2002 to 2007, according to an April analysis from Emmanuel Saez, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.