California Employment by Income (2016)

Despite having the third highest rate of low-wage job creation in the nation, California could face a shortage of low-wage workers as housing costs push residents out in search of affordability. 

According to a trio of new studies, low- and middle-wage workers are leaving California even as large numbers of higher-wage earners continue to arrive. And all together, more people are moving out than moving in.

The report finds that many new jobs in California are in low-wage industries, and the post-recession period favored low-wage job growth over middle-wage and high-wage job growth throughout the state by a wide margin. However, when compared with the rest of the nation, the trend of low-wage job creation is not unique to California. Other large population states, such as Texas and Florida, also rank among the top ten in low-wage job growth during the post recession period. California has also been leading the nation in both middle-wage and high-wage job creation in the post-recession recovery, as California is home to numerous high-wage industries that are leading the country in high-wage job creation. Additionally, compensation in high-wage and middle-wage industries in California is growing faster than in the nation overall.

Given California's role as a leader in both tourism and technology, the state should expect to continue creating a mix of high-, middle- and low-wage jobs as businesses invest, construction picks up, consumers increase spending, and tourists continue to travel.

More information on California's employment by income compared to other states available at, and the other two reports are under the Additional Resources tab.

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  • Low-wage jobs are concentrated in a small number of high-level industries, such as Leisure and Hospitality, Retail, Healthcare, and Agriculture. High-wage employment, on the other hand, is represented by a larger variety of smaller industries.
  • Over the years, the share of employment in low-wage industries has risen in California and in the nation overall.
  • Low-wage job growth in California during the post-recession period ranked 3rd highest in the nation. However, California was not the only large state to rank high in low-wage job growth: Florida and Texas were also in the top 5.
  • California is home to some of the leading high-wage industries in the nation, including the Professional and Technical Services industry. California ranked 11th highest amongst all states in terms of post-recession job growth in this sector. Additionally, compensation in high-wage industries in California is growing faster than the nation overall.
  • California ranked 11th in terms of job growth in middle-wage industries from the 4th quarter of 2009 to the 4th quarter of 2014.