Ben Casselman, FiveThirtyEight:
The U.S. economy is starting to create more good-paying jobs. But the middle class is still lagging behind in both job growth and wages.
New data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Wednesday showed that a wide range of jobs grew quickly in 2014. Personal-care workers — mostly low-paid workers like- manicurists and hairdressers — experienced the fastest growth of any major category. But construction jobs, which typically fall in the middle of the pay spectrum, and computer jobs, which are often highly paid, were close behind.
But the job growth wasn’t evenly distributed. As has been true for much of the nearly six-year-old recovery, hiring was strongest at the top and bottom of the pay scale. Overall, jobs at the extremes of the pay distribution — those where median pay falls in the top or bottom 20 percent of all occupations — have surpassed their prerecession peaks. Jobs in the middle 60 percent experienced slower growth and are still deep in negative territory.