Wage Gap

This week, the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis released a report that reveals a wage gap between Virginia’s top and lowest earners.  It stressed that the top tier of earners experienced more wage growth recently than the lowest tier in the past 30 years.  But the study also defines clear trends and suggests what could be done to address them.

The Institute’s Michael Cassidy says several factors lead to the disparity, including job sectors.  Areas such as accommodations, tourism, and food service still pay much less than others that do not require a college degree.   “We’ve also seen a real decimation of the middle income jobs in our economy. So, sectors like construction and manufacturing have seen among the highest employment losses since the recession,” says Cassidy.

And he says while those with at least bachelors degrees often see higher wage gains than those without, it’s not the only factor.

“Just having more folks in the economy with a college degree doesn’t necessarily mean that there are going to be jobs there for them. Here in Virginia we’ve seen that in the recent years, that has certainly been the case.”   Cassidy says policymakers must find ways to promote workforce training in sectors that are growing, such as healthcare.  But he says state officials also must discover ways to boost demand for products and services that businesses provide–to make hiring and higher wages possible.

–Tommie McNeil


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