The Shrinking Middle Class: How We Got Here, And Why

In The News

By Fortune Staff

Since the recession of 2008, blue-collar work has been booming. One problem: These workers are still mostly men. Men hold three-quarters of the 15.4 million U.S. manufacturing jobs, leading to what economists refer to as “occupational segregation.” Meanwhile, women are overrepresented in other “middle-skill” industries that don’t require a degree (such as health care and eldercare) and that provide less security and fewer opportunities for full-time work. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports that in 2016, women represented 83% of workers in middle-skill jobs paying less than $30,000 a year—but only 36% of workers in occupations requiring similar levels of training and paying at least $35,000 a year. Experts say societal bias plays a part in this type of job segregation, but a study from the National Partnership for Women and Families also reported that 74% of low-income (non-welfare) women said childcare was a barrier to employment—one factor among many leading women toward part-time, lower-security work. —By Emma Hinchliffe

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