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Low-Wage Jobs Lead Charlotte, Hickory Recovery

The unemployment rate in the Charlotte and Hickory metro areas declined about one percent in August. That's according to state Commerce Department data released Wednesday.

In Charlotte, the rate is down to 8.3 percent, while in Hickory, the rate fell to 9.1 percent. But the job growth over the past year has been concentrated in one of the lowest-paying industries. Allan Freyer is an analyst for the N.C. Budget and Tax Center, a research organization.

"What we're seeing today is an acceleration of trends that we've seen over the last 10 years," Freyer said, "which is the replacement of mostly manufacturing jobs that paid living wages, and the new jobs that are coming - especially since the end of the recession - are these low-wage jobs mostly in leisure and hospitality."

The leisure and hospitality industry includes jobs in restaurants, hotels, the arts and tourism. In the Charlotte area, those kinds of jobs accounted for nearly 40 percent of the jobs created over the past year. In the Hickory area, they've accounted for half of all the new jobs.