Featured Research

Building 65 Million Jobs: The Geography of Low-Paid Service Class Jobs and How to Begin to Upgrade Them

This report takes a deep dive into America’s Service Class. The Service Class includes 65 million workers who toil in precarious, low-skill, low-pay jobs in fields like Food Preparation and Service, Retail Trade, Personal Care, and Clerical and Administrative positions.

Our research outlines the dramatic growth of the Service Class, documents the low wages paid to Service Class workers, and charts the large share of women and minorities that make up Service Class workers.

Key findings from this research include:

  • Service Class jobs are the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, employing 65 million Americans, nearly half of all workers.
  • The members of the Service Class toil in low-paid jobs, making slightly more than $32,000 on average, while positions in Food Service and Personal Care professions, in which more than 15 million Americans work, pay even less, roughly $25,000. This is less than half of what the average Creative Class worker earns and 30 percent less than members of the blue-collar Working Class.
  • The members of the Service Class toil in low-paid jobs, making slightly more than $32,000 on average, while positions in Food Service and Personal Care professions, in which more than 15 million Americans work, pay even less, roughly $25,000. This is less than half of what the average Creative Class worker earns and 30 percent less than members of the blue-collar Working Class.
  • The Service Class is disproportionately made up of women who hold more than six in 10 of all low-wage Service jobs.
  • There are also much higher concentrations of minorities in the Service Class, particularly Black- and Hispanic-Americans who hold 15 and 16 percent of Service Class jobs respectively.

The report outlines a set of strategies for upgrading Service Class jobs. The best and most competitive companies pay workers more, treat them well, and involve them in productivity enhancement and better customer service. This strategy combines operational excellence with an investment in workers themselves. Through higher pay and greater engagement, companies are able to tap into the productivity and innovation of workers as a source of improved productivity, creating greater profits. If we are to overcome our economic divides and rebuild the middle class, it is imperative that we upgrade the 65 million low wage Service Class jobs we have.

Download this Report (PDF)

Exhibit 10: Large Metros with the Highest and Lowest Shares of Service Class Jobs

Rank
Metro
Share of Labor Force
1
Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
62.3%
2
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
57.7%
3
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, FL
57.4%
4
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX
54.2%
5
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
53.3%
6
Jacksonville, FL
52.6%
7
Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY
52.3%
8
Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA
51.9%
9
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA
51.7%
10
Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ
51.7%
42
Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI
46.8%
43
Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN
46.7%
44
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
46.6%
45
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH
46.6%
46
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX
46.5%
47
Indianapolis-Carmel, IN
46.2%
48
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT
45.9%
49
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
43.7%
50
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
42.7%
51
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
40.1%