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America's job problem: Low-wage work is growing fastest

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America has a wage problem

The country is projected to add almost 8 million jobs through 2022, representing 5 percent growth, according to a new study from CareerBuilder. Even though that represents a positive trend, the findings raise major red flags: Low-wage jobs are expected to grow the fastest, while middle-wage work will continue to decline. 

The job growth would represent a continuation of the recovery witnessed since the Great Recession ended, when employers cut workers and were slow to start hiring again. Yet the quality of jobs is increasingly a focus of economists and policymakers because "Automation is eliminating middle-wage workers," said CareerBuilder spokeswoman Jennifer Grasz. That trend is likely to continue. 

"For a lot of workers becoming displaced," Grasz added, "there has to be an action plan, or they have to go back to the classroom to learn new skills." Without learning new skills, some of those workers will be pushed into low-wage jobs, or positions that pay less than $14.25 an hour. 

Middle-wage jobs are those that pay between $14.26 and $23.23 an hour, while high-wage jobs pay $23.24 or more per hour, CareerBuilder said. 

The fastest-growing professions are STEM-related careers, or jobs in science, technology, engineering and math. They also tend to be higher-paying positions, such as software developers, who earn median hourly wages of $50.03. 

The low-wage jobs that are projected to grow quickly are roles that can't be left to automation, such as home health aides, taxi drivers and food prep, Grasz said. 

Currently, plenty of jobs are available for people without college degrees. Georgetown University and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) found the U.S. now has 30 million middle-class jobs for less-educated workers. Yet that research found good jobs are increasingly shifting toward Americans with college degrees, who now hold the bulk of higher-paying positions

Below are the fastest growing and declining jobs over the next five years, with the growth rate and median hourly wages. 

Fastest growing: 

1. Personal care aides (16 percent growth): $10.89 per hour

2. Home health aides (16 percent): $11.25 

3. Web developers (15 percent): $30.75 

4. Nurse practitioners (14 percent): $50.14 

5. Physical therapists (12 percent): $41.57 

6. Industrial machinery mechanics (12 percent): $24.65 

7. Computer systems analysts (12 percent): $43.04 

8. Software developers (11 percent): $50.03

9. Market research analysts (11 percent): $31.52

10. Personal financial advisers (10 percent): 43.87

Fastest declining:

1. Switchboard operators (-11 percent): $13.23

2. Door-to-door sales, street vendors (-10 percent): $10.25

3. Printing press operator (-5 percent): $17.22

4. Molding, coremaking and casting machine setters (-4 percent): $14.27

5. Cutting, punching and press machine setters (-4 percent): $15.30

6. Sewing machine operators (-4 percent): $11.38

7. Tellers (-4 percent): $12.56

8. Construction managers (-3 percent): $34.25

9. Cooks, fast food (-2 percent): $9.67

10. Bookkeeping, accounting (-1 percent): $18.23

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