Sobering Stats

Jennifer Marks EDITOR-IN-CHIEFJennifer Marks EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
LORD, IT DON'T COME EASY. The June jobs report released late last week showed a gain of just 18,000 jobs - drastically lower than economists had expected and even worse than the original May report's 54,000 job increase. About an hour before the report was released, I was reading a piece about job growth on The Atlantic Monthly's website that offered some sobering statistics:
     "According to Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, the U.S. economy remains on track to generate 15 million new jobs over the next decade. 6.8 million of them will be high-skill, high-wage work in the knowledge, professional, and technical sectors of the economy. The other half will be much lowerpaying, low-skill work in the routine service sector of the economy. More than 45 percent of the U.S. workforce - 60 million workers - already do this kind of work, and they earn just half of what factory workers make - and only a third of what professional, technical and knowledge workers are paid."
     The italics are mine.
     Whenever the economy downshifts, there's a lot of talk about the squeeze put on middle-tier retailers. Then the economy gets humming again and discount store shoppers start splurging a tier above their pay grade, while mid-tier shoppers splurge at full-on department stores.
     What the BLS report suggests is more of a permanent wage realignment. Pray that it's not so, but if the projections prove out it calls into question the recently re-invigorated pace of new store openings by all retailers lacking the word "Dollar" in their nameplate. Stores catering to the traditional middle class professional segment could fi nd themselves battling for a shrinking market.
     As for suppliers who have been hoping for a return to higher quality standards ... don't hold your breath too long.

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