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I thought I was all finished (mildly) trashing the monthly jobs report that occasioned so much euphoria in the economics world upon its release last Friday, when a quick perusal revealed another big problem. Not only did the Labor Department survey confirm a trend of more and more employment creation coming from parts of the economy heavily reliant on government subsidies (like health care). It also made clear that ever more of the jobs being generated during the current recovery are low-wage positions – which can’t be a sign of anything like real economic health.

First, some definitions. By low-wage, I mean jobs whose hourly wage is less than the private sector average ($24.96 as of the latest available – May – pre-inflation data). Three sectors make up a representative sample: retail, leisure and hospitality, and administrative and support services. Not that these industries contain all of America’s low-wage workers, but taken together they’re a good proxy.

That jobs report last Friday told us that in toto, those industries accounted for 27.68 percent of all U.S. non-farm jobs (the Labor Department’s American jobs universe) in May. (These figures are still preliminary.) But it also made clear that they fueled 45.36 percent of the economy’s overall job growth that month. That’s both much higher than their share of employment and much higher than their January monthly contribution: 29.40 percent.

The year-on-year trends are less dramatic, but they tell the same story. From January, 2014 to January, 2015, low-wage jobs amounted to 34.42 percent of all non-farm jobs the economy added. In May, this year-on-year improvement was up to 35.40 percent.

In fact, since the recovery began – technically in the middle of 2009 – total non-farm employment is up 8.20 percent – 10.735 million jobs. But these low-wage positions increased on net by 14.10 percent – 4.8453 million jobs. Put differently, the low-wage sectors have generated 45.14 percent of all the nation’s jobs comeback since the recession officially ended.

Of course, it’s a free country, so economists and others can interpret these results as they wish. But it’s clear to me that the nation’s enthusiasm about jobs trends should be curbed – which would make this a Larry David Jobs Recovery.

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