Newest job numbers show that businesses are expanding opportunities in high-wage fields.
The US economy isn't just producing jobs these days, it's also producing good jobs. Alongside the ads for jobs handling a cash register or a spatula are these new opportunities:
• In St. Louis, AFB International is enlisting both technicians, paid $30,000 to $40,000, and PhD scientists, offered $80,000 to $100,000, in its quest for the perfect pet food.
• In Delaware, Honeywell plans to hire people at $40,000 to $100,000 to work in a data-storage center.
• In southern California, some of the latest openings involve working on the railroad, for $35,000 to $70,000 a year. Union Pacific plans to add 2,000 employees altogether.
These reports in the past month symbolize a welcome trend during an economic expansion that at first offered only tepid job gains, both in quantity and quality.
This good news about the breadth of job creation comes against a backdrop of labor-market anxiety that has persisted despite the economy's solid overall footing. Competition from imported goods, the threat of outsourcing services abroad, and a controversial influx of illegal laborers are just some of the forces that make many workers worried about their future.
Creating good jobs - the kinds that can keep American living standards rising - appears likely to remain a challenge. But the current employment picture at least indicates movement in a positive direction.
"We're creating lots of all kinds of jobs, across many industries, occupations, and pay scales," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com. But he adds: "If your skill sets are rusty, or at the low end of the skill range, you're going to have a tougher time."
The economy added 211,000 jobs in March, according to a Labor Department report Friday - a solid showing about on par with expectations. The unemployment rate fell a notch, to 4.7 percent.