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Admittedly, the August jobs report wasn't a winner. Although the unemployment rate fell to 7.3% from the previous month's 7.4%, that was due more to decreased work force participation than from job creation, which was disappointing, to say the least. The 169,000 new positions were 11,000 short of the 180,000 predicted -- not good news for the economy, nor job-seekers.
Still, there were some bright spots in the employment release: Some sectors added over 20,000 jobs each to the economy over the last month, though the great majority appear to require a college degree.
Here are the top three job-gainers for August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as some examples of average yearly wages.
Food Services and Drinking Places
Not surprisingly, this subsector of the Accommodation and Food Services industry comprises work in the restaurant and bar business, and added 21,000 jobs in August. Despite this, unemployment in this area is high, at 10.3%, though that percentage dropped from July's 11.2%.
As far as wages go, workers likely won't get rich making a career out of this type of employment. The average hourly wage for all employees for July was $11.99, while strictly non-supervisory workers logged only $10.72 per hour. Overall, the work week has remained short since April, averaging a little over 25 hours each week for all categories of workers since that time.
As you might expect, yearly earnings are skimpy. Food preparers and servers made only $18,160 last year, while first-line supervisors in the sector earned a more respectable -- though not overwhelming -- $30,890 in 2012.
Professional and Business Services
These jobs, made up of subsectors that include positions as varied as accountants, lawyers, and janitors, collectively added 23,000 jobs in August. As you can imagine, the category Administrative and Support and Waste Management Remediation Services, which includes clerks and janitors, doesn't pay as well as the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services or the Management of Companies and Enterprises sectors, which include the other two professions.
For example, BLS estimated 2012 annual wages for janitors as $22,430, while office clerks made $27,330 that year. Jumping into the other two sectors shows that the highest earning job in the Professional sector is that of lawyer, earning, on average, $137,460 last year. In the Management category, general and operations managers take the crown, earning $141,170 in 2012.
Tucked within the BLS' category encompassing Health Care and Social Assistance is the Ambulatory Health Care job sector, which contributed 27,000 jobs to the economy this past August. This section includes three types of nurses, medical assistants and secretaries, and health services managers. The latter job sector wins the best-paid prize hands down, with an average yearly wage in 2012 of $94,230, compared to medical assistants, who made a mere $30,430.
What this means for the economy
As usual, the least-skilled jobs pay the lowest wages, and employees in those positions can expect workweeks much shorter than in other sectors, such as ambulatory care, which provides at least 31 hours per week of work. Professional positions, like research analysts and auditors, enjoy longer work weeks of 36 hours or more.
It seems obvious that there is a large disparity between available employment opportunities, where roughly one-third are low-wage, lower-skilled jobs, and the rest are reserved, for the most part, for those with college degrees. If you ever doubted the need for that college diploma, taking a closer look at the BLS's labor statistics will put that concern to rest once and for all.
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