According to data from Indeed, middle and high-paying industries have seen faster job growth than low-paying industries since the end of 2017.
Middle-wage industries in particular, which include air transportation and residential building, were growing around two percent at the end of 2017. But in October 2018, these industries reached a high of 2.7%. Meanwhile, growth in high-wage industries, which include legal services and hospitals, accelerated to 2.3% in January 2019.
Although low-wage industries such as child care services and food and drinking establishments have seen slower job growth of around 1.5%, Gimbel says that in order to compete with higher-wage industries, employers in these fields are starting to increase pay.
For example, Hamrick says that the decision by McDonald's to end its lobby against minimum wage hikes and Target's decision to raise its minimum wage to $13 an hour are key signs that low-wage industries will continue to see more pay increases.
"All across the country you've seen the tendency for state and local governments to raise their minimum wage because the federal government isn't in the position to do it," he says. "So that helps to some degree to explain why we've seen lower-paid workers doing better."
Aside from the already employed individuals who are taking advantage of these pay increases and opportunities, Gimbel says that now is also a good time for the long-term unemployed to finally find employment. In today's tight labor market, she says, "the good news is that employers are having to look at workers that they might not have looked at in the past, and that includes the long-term unemployed."
She advises anyone who's been out of the job market for an extended period of time to update their resume with skills and qualifications that can be applicable to any industry. "The point is that people should be thinking about how their skills can transfer across a lot of different types of jobs and not get locked into this thing that 'because I did this before, that's therefore the area I need to stay in.'"