URBAN INSTITUTE ANALYZES GROWTH SINCE 2007 AND PROJECTED GROWTH UNTIL 2017
RICHMOND, VA-The Urban Institute released a national report today detailing economic recovery and projected job growth over the next five years which included numbers specific to Richmond, Va. Among the key findings of the report were that the wage gap is expected to increase over the next five years, several industries (manufacturing, construction, and retail trade) are not expected to return to pre-recession employment levels and more investment is needed to sustain a true economic recovery.
According to the report, over the next five years national employment growth will be higher at both ends of the education spectrum, meaning jobs requiring higher education and jobs for those with less than a high school education will increase, creating a gap in jobs for those in the middle. Decreasing the number of jobs for those with a high school diploma will increase inequality in the job market, affecting the 18-25 age group and people of color the most. In Richmond, the highest growth will be among jobs that require the highest levels of education.
“Job growth, even slow growth, is usually something we want to celebrate, but because of the alarming implications for increasing inequality, we cannot. Virginia has consistently made cuts to social and public programs that benefit the people in the low- and middle-income ranges. Last week, Governor Bob McDonnell signed into law a budget that attempts to bandage the problems we face in economic recovery using spending cuts to important social and public programs while maintaining tax cuts for the wealthy. If we continue on this path, we will see an increasing gap in wages, causing more people to need services, and fewer funds to provide those services,” said Sandra Cook, Chairperson of Virginia Organizing.
Even with growth in low skill jobs, lower skilled workers are likely to be left behind. As those with higher educational and experience qualifications seek work, they may be forced into lower skill jobs, further eliminating them from the middle class and forcing the low skill workers with limited education out of jobs.
The lack of growth in the industries of manufacturing, construction, and retail-trade in Richmond, Virginia can translate into even greater unemployment in parts of the state that have been most affected by the recession and housing crisis. Over the long term, investing in jobs and Virginia’s workers is the best way to reduce the deficit and increase the tax base.
“The cuts-only approach only protects the wealthy, harms the majority of Virginians and creates more problems in the long run,” Cook said.
Virginia Organizing is a statewide grassroots organization that brings people together to create a more just Virginia.