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Analysis: Most U.S. jobs don't pay enough for middle, upper-class life

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Unemployment has gone down, but people are still struggling to find middle-class and professional jobs. File Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI

By Sommer Brokaw, UPI

A national think tank measuring U.S. job opportunities said in a report Tuesday most jobs do not pay enough to afford a middle- or upper-class life.

The study, which ranked America's 204 largest metropolitan areas, found just 38 percent of jobs pay enough for middle- or upper-class lifestyles for households with two incomes and children.

Of the remaining 62 percent, the report said 32 percent pay a living-wage and 30 percent pay a "hardship" wage, defined as an income lower than what a single adult needs to afford basic necessities.

Third Way said in its report three of four key battleground states President Donald Trump won in 2016 -- Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida -- struggled to provide enough middle- and upper-class opportunity.

The fourth state, Wisconsin, ranked relatively high on the list -- with 43 percent of middle- to high-class jobs. Minnesota and Iowa also ranked in the top 20.

In Rochester, Minn., the report's No. 1 area for job opportunity, 45 percent of jobs are considered middle-class or better, and its employment to population ratio was 84.6 percent, the third highest in the country.

Researchers found that some top-ranking areas are near large medical clinics. Rochester is close to the Mayo Clinic, and Cleveland is near the Cleveland Clinic. Other areas ranked highly are Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Madison, Wis.

Salinas, Calif., was ranked among the bottom 12 metropolitan areas because of high cost of living.

The lack of jobs paying $44,820 or more annually persist, even though the unemployment rate has reached a 50-year low of 3.7 percent, USA Today reported.

"There's an opportunity crisis in the country," said Jim Kessler, vice president of policy for Third Way and editor of the report. "It explains some of the economic uneasiness and, frankly, the political uneasiness."

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