Living-wage jobs rebound in tech regions after pandemic, but manufacturing lags

Tourism industry revival pushes up living wages in regions hardest hit by COVID-19

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Driven by the high-tech and aerospace industries, the “Space Coast” of Florida saw the strongest living-wage job growth in 2021, while supply chain issues caused the manufacturing-heavy Piedmont Triad to North Carolina losing ground, according to an analysis of the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity (LISEP).

LISEP today published a comprehensive analysis of the Real unemployment rate (TRU) by metropolitan statistical area (MSA) for 2021, a more in-depth version of its monthly Real unemployment rate report. For the purposes of this analysis, LISEP has highlighted TRU’s sister metric, the TRU out of population. This is defined as the percentage of the MSA’s total adult population (aged 16+) who are not employed full-time, work part-time but want to work full-time, and do not earn a salary above the poverty line. The calculations are based on data compiled by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Analyzes based on the employment status of the entire population, as opposed to just the civilian workforce, serve as a more telling barometer of work trends during the pandemic due to a spike in discouraged workers leaving the labor market, according to LISEP.

In the TRU by MSA report, which compares data from 2020 to 2021, the palm baymelbourneTitusville, Florida., MSA – known as the Space Coast – saw the strongest paid employment growth among the nation’s 100 most populous MSAs, with 10% growth driven by high-tech, defense and aerospace industries . This region was followed by the AustinRound Rock, Texas, MSA with a 7.3% improvement and counting Apple, Dell, IBM and Samsung among its biggest employers. Other metropolitan areas traditionally dependent on the tourism and hospitality industry have also seen significant gains from the easing of COVID restrictions: Fresno, California. (7.2%); Colorado Springs (5.9%); and DeltoneDaytona BeachOrmond Beach, Florida. (5.8%). Data from the top 100 MSAs are available for download here.

But even though much of the country has enjoyed notable gains in paid employment as the pandemic wanes, supply chain issues and other factors have hampered recovery elsewhere. The manufacturing-intensive economy of the Piedmont Triad region North Carolina – the Greensborohigh point and Winston-Salem MSA – have experienced the strongest growth in working unemployment in the country: Greensborohigh point was the first with a peak of 8.2%, with Winston Salem third, at 5.6%. Between the two, the second strongest growth in functional unemployment is AlbanySchenectadyTroy, NY, MSA at 6.7%. The Springfield, Massachusetts.and Columbia, South Carolinathe MSA, at 3.3% and 2.6% respectively, complete the top 5 in terms of growth in functional unemployment.

“While we remain hopeful for a post-pandemic recovery – and a recovery in every American city and town – the fact remains that many American families are hurting here and now, and cannot wait for things to get better. “finally”, declared LISEP President Gene Ludwig. “The trends are encouraging for some parts of the country, but for others there is still a lot of work to do. If policymakers are to make decisions to facilitate an equitable recovery, it is important that they are aware of the disparities that this data shows.”

About TRU

LISEP published the white paper “Measuring Better: Development of ‘True Rate of Unemployment Data as the Basis for Social and Economic Policy” when announcing the new statistical measure in October 2020. The document and the methodology can be consulted here. LISEP issues the TRU one to two weeks after the release of the BLS unemployment report, which occurs on the first Friday of each month. The TRU rate and supporting data are available on the LISEP website at


The Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity (LISEP) was created in 2019 by Ludwig and his wife, Dr. Carole Ludwig. LISEP’s mission is to give policymakers a more transparent view of the economic well-being of middle- and low-income Americans, and seeks to advance the dialogue around policy solutions.

About Gene Ludwig

In addition to his role as President of LISEP, Gene Ludwig is the founder of the Promontory family of companies and Canapi LLC, a fintech venture capital fund. He is the CEO of Promontory MortgagePath, a technology-based mortgage management and solutions company. Ludwig is the former Vice President and Chief Comptroller of Bankers Trust New York Corp., and served as Comptroller of the United States Currency from 1993 to 1998. He is also the author of the book The fading American dream, which studies the economic challenges facing middle- and low-income Americans. He left in September 2020 by Disruption Books. On Twitter: @geneludwig.

SOURCE Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity

Michael A. Bynum