The Center for Economic and Policy Research's John Schmitt and Janelle Jones wanted to know what went wrong.
In their study Where Have All The Good Jobs Gone? (via Matt Yglesias), they blame falling unionization rates, deregulation, trade policy, immigration and an obsession with inflation at the expense of job creation.
Whether you agree or disagree with that conclusion, the following 9 charts show a clear decline in "good" jobs began right around 1980, and that rather than clotheslining an apparently perpetual boom, the 2008 financial crisis caused us to return to a mean.
Using the current distribution of workers by age and education in 2010 and substituting the corresponding rate of good jobs held by each group in 1979, they show that if not for those harmful factors, the country's "good" jobs rate would today be at 34.2 percent, not the 24.6 percent at which it currently stands.
First, the workforce snapshot. Education levels have gone way up
Well, so has the average worker's age
But looking at the past 30 years, it's basically gotten us nowhere