The U.S. labor market is the most laissez faire of any developed nation, with a weak social safety net and little government regulation compared to Europe or Japan. Some economists point to this hands-off approach as the source of America's low unemployment and high per-capita income. But the stagnant living standards and rising economic insecurity many Americans now face take some of the luster off the U.S. model. In America Works, noted economist Richard Freeman reveals how U.S. policies have created a labor market remarkable both for its dynamism and its disparities. America Works takes readers on a grand tour of America's exceptional labor market, comparing the economic institutions and performance of the United States to the economies of Europe and other wealthy countries. The U.S. economy has an impressive track record when it comes to job creation and productivity growth, but it isn't so good at reducing poverty or raising the wages of the average worker. Despite huge gains in productivity, most Americans are hardly better off than they were a generation ago. The median wage is actually lower now than in the early 1970s, and the poverty rate in 2005 was higher than in 1969. So why have the benefits of productivity growth been distributed so unevenly? One reason is that unions have been steadily declining in membership. In Europe, labor laws extend collective bargaining settlements to non-unionized firms. Because wage agreements in America only apply to firms where workers are unionized, American managers have discouraged unionization drives more aggressively. In addition, globalization and immigration have placed growing competitive pressure on American workers. And boards of directors appointed by CEOs have raised executive pay to astronomical levels. Freeman addresses these problems with a variety of proposals designed to maintain the vigor of the U.S. economy while spreading more of its benefits to working Americans. To maintain America's global competitive edge, Freeman calls for increased R&D spending and financial incentives for students pursuing graduate studies in science and engineering. To improve corporate governance, he advocates licensing individuals who serve on corporate boards. Freeman also makes the case for fostering worker associations outside of the confines of traditional unions and for establishing a federal agency to promote profit-sharing and employee ownership. Assessing the performance of the U.S. job market in light of other developed countries' recent history highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the free market model. Written with authoritative knowledge and incisive wit, America Works provides a compelling plan for how we can make markets work better for all Americans. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Centennial Series
Throughout the latter part of the 20th century, the U.S. labor market performed differently than the labor markets of the world's other advanced industrialized societies. In the early 1970s, the United States had higher unemployment rates than its Western European counterparts. But after two oil crises, rapid technological change, and globalization rocked the world's economies, unemployment fell in the United States, while increasing dramatically in other nations. At the same time, wage inequality widened more in the United States than in Europe. In At Home and Abroad, Cornell University economists Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn examine the reasons for these striking dissimilarities between the United States and its economic allies. Comparing countries, the authors find that governments and unions play a far greater role in the labor market in Europe than they do in the United States. It is much more difficult to lay off workers in Europe than in the United States, unemployment insurance is more generous in Europe, and many fewer Americans than Europeans are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Interventionist labor market institutions in Europe compress wages, thus contributing to the lower levels of wage inequality in the European Union than in the United States. Using a unique blend of microeconomic and microeconomic analyses, the authors assess how these differences affect wage and unemployment levels. In a lucid narrative, they present ample evidence that, as upheavals shook the global economy, the flexible U.S. market let wages adjust so that jobs could be maintained, while more rigid European economies maintained wages at the cost of losing jobs. By helping readers understand the relationship between different economic responses and outcomes, At Home and Abroad makes an invaluable contribution to the continuing debate about the role institutions can and should play in creating jobs and maintaining living standards.
With the introduction of more aggressive policing, prosecution, and sentencing since the late 1970s, the number of Americans in prison has increased dramatically. While many have credited these "get tough" policies with lowering violent crime rates, we are only just beginning to understand the broader costs of mass incarceration. In Barriers to Reentry? experts on labor markets and the criminal justice system investigate how imprisonment affects ex-offenders' employment prospects, and how the challenge of finding work after prison affects the likelihood that they will break the law again and return to prison. The authors examine the intersection of imprisonment and employment from many vantage points, including employer surveys, interviews with former prisoners, and state data on prison employment programs and post-incarceration employment rates. Ex-prisoners face many obstacles to re-entering the job market—from employers' fears of negligent hiring lawsuits to the lost opportunities for acquiring work experience while incarcerated. In a study of former prisoners, Becky Pettit and Christopher Lyons find that employment among this group was actually higher immediately after their release than before they were incarcerated, but that over time their employment rate dropped to their pre-imprisonment levels. Exploring the demand side of the equation, Harry Holzer, Steven Raphael, and Michael Stoll report on their survey of employers in Los Angeles about the hiring of former criminals, in which they find strong evidence of pervasive hiring discrimination against ex-prisoners. Devah Pager finds similar evidence of employer discrimination in an experiment in which Milwaukee employers were presented with applications for otherwise comparable jobseekers, some of whom had criminal records and some of whom did not. Such findings are particularly troubling in light of research by Steven Raphael and David Weiman which shows that ex-criminals are more likely to violate parole if they are unemployed. In a concluding chapter, Bruce Western warns that prison is becoming the norm for too many inner-city minority males; by preventing access to the labor market, mass incarceration is exacerbating inequality. Western argues that, ultimately, the most successful policies are those that keep young men out of prison in the first place. Promoting social justice and reducing recidivism both demand greater efforts to reintegrate former prisoners into the workforce. Barriers to Reentry? cogently underscores one of the major social costs of incarceration, and builds a compelling case for rethinking the way our country rehabilitates criminals.
In a society where everyone is supposed to go to college, the problems facing high school graduates who do not continue their education are often forgotten. Many cannot find jobs, and those who do are often stuck in low-wage, dead-end positions. Meanwhile employers complain that high school graduates lack the necessary skills for today's workplace. Beyond College for All focuses on this crisis in the American labor market. Around the world, author James E. Rosenbaum finds, employers view high school graduates as valuable workers. Why not here? Rosenbaum reports on new studies of the interaction between employers and high schools in the United States. He concludes that each fails to communicate its needs to the other, leading to a predictable array of problems for young people in the years after graduation. High schools caught up in the college-for-all myth, provide little job advice or preparation, leading students to make unrealistic plans and hampering both students who do not go to college and those who start college but do not finish. Employers say they care about academic skills, but then do not consider grades when deciding whom to hire. Faced with few incentives to achieve, many students lapse into precisely the kinds of habits employers deplore, doing as little as possible in high school and developing poor attitudes. Rosenbaum contrasts the situation in the United States with that of two other industrialized nations-Japan and Germany-which have formal systems for aiding young people who are looking for employment. Virtually all Japanese high school graduates obtain work, and in Germany, eighteen-year-olds routinely hold responsible jobs. While the American system lacks such formal linkages, Rosenbaum uncovers an encouraging hidden system that helps many high school graduates find work. He shows that some American teachers, particularly vocational teachers, create informal networks with employers to guide students into the labor market. Enterprising employers have figures out how to use these networks to meet their labor needs, while students themselves can take steps to increase their ability to land desirable jobs. Beyond College for All suggests new policies based on such practices. Rosenbaum presents a compelling case that the problems faced by American high school graduates and employers can be solved if young people, employers, and high schools build upon existing informal networks to create formal paths for students to enter the world of work. A Volume in the American Sociological Association's Rose Series in Sociology
College-for-all has become the new American dream. Most high school students today express a desire to attend college, and 90% of on-time high school graduates enroll in higher education in the eight years following high school. Yet, degree completion rates remain low for non-traditional students—students who are older, low-income, or have poor academic achievement—even at community colleges that endeavor to serve them. What can colleges do to reduce dropouts? In Bridging the Gaps, education scholars James Rosenbaum, Caitlin Ahearn, and Janet Rosenbaum argue that when institutions focus only on bachelor’s degrees and traditional college procedures, they ignore other pathways to educational and career success. Using multiple longitudinal studies, the authors evaluate the shortcomings and successes of community colleges and investigate how these institutions can promote alternatives to BAs and traditional college procedures to increase graduation rates and improve job payoffs.
The authors find that sub-baccalaureate credentials—associate degrees and college certificates—can improve employment outcomes. Young adults who complete these credentials have higher employment rates, earnings, autonomy, career opportunities, and job satisfaction than those who enroll but do not complete credentials. Sub-BA credentials can be completed at community college in less time than bachelor’s degrees, making them an affordable option for many low-income students.
Bridging the Gaps shows that when community colleges overemphasize bachelor’s degrees, they tend to funnel resources into remedial programs, and try to get low-performing students on track for a BA. Yet, remedial programs have inconsistent success rates and can create unrealistic expectations, leading struggling students to drop out before completing any degree. The authors show that colleges can devise procedures that reduce remedial placements and help students discover unseen abilities, attain valued credentials, get good jobs, and progress on degree ladders to higher credentials.
To turn college-for-all into a reality, community college students must be aware of their multiple credential and career options. Bridging the Gaps shows how colleges can create new pathways for non-traditional students to achieve success in their schooling and careers.
The importance of the silver trade to the Spanish colonial effort is well documented, as it opened up an exchange of goods with Europe and Asia. Lesser known is the story of the roads on which this trade moved and the people responsible for building them.
Focusing on the camino real linking Mexico City and the port of Veracruz, Bruce Castleman has written a social history of road construction laborers in late Bourbon Mexico. He has drawn on employment and census records to study a major shift in methods used by the Spanish colonial regime to mobilize the supply of unskilled labor—and concomitant changes in the identities those laborers asserted for themselves.
Through a close analysis of wages actually paid to named individuals from one week to the next, Castleman opens a new window on Mexican history. In the 1760s, a free-wage labor regime replaced a draft-labor system, and by examining records of road construction he traces both this transformation and its implications. During this time, free-wage artisans saw their earnings reduced, and they were pushed into the labor pool, and Castleman reveals how a shift occurred in the way that laborers identified themselves as the Spanish casta system of racial classification became increasingly fluid.
In his study, Castleman introduces some of the principle players of eighteenth-century Mexico, from viceroys to tobacco planters to military engineers. He then fleshes out the lives of working persons, drawing on a complete set of construction records from the construction of the Puente de Escamela at Orizaba to forge a collective biography that considers their existences apart from the workplace. By linking census and employment records, he uncovers a host of social indicators such as marriage preference, family structure, and differences over time in how the caste system was used to classify people according to ancestry.
As Castleman shows, roads did not so much link Mexico to the global economy as forge regional markets within New Spain, and his work provides an astute analysis of struggles between the Bourbon colonial state, the important consulados of Mexico City and Veracruz, and more localized interests over road policy. More important, Building the King’s Highway provides a valuable new perspective on people’s lives as it advances our understanding of labor in late colonial Latin America.
The boom of the U.S. economy in the late 1990s suggests that Americans are better off than they were a decade ago, but this is not true across the board and the reason, as James Galbraith explains, is wage inequality. He contends that inequality is not the result of impersonal market forces but of specific government decisions and the poor economic performance they created. Featuring a new afterword on wage shifts since 1994, Created Unequal is a rousing book that reminds us we can reclaim our country through economic understanding, commonsense policy, and political action.
"Created Unequal is not light reading, but Galbraith's elegant arguments, passionate exposition, and profound conclusions make it worth the trouble. . . . [Galbraith] remind[s] us that the economy is and ought to be run by humans, not humans by the economy."—Joanna Ciulla, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Created Unequal is a lucid and wise explanation of why America seems to be prospering while most Americans aren't. James Galbraith takes steady aim at a variety of widely accepted economic myths and hits most of them dead center. This book will tell you a lot about the way your economic world really works."—Jeff Faux, President of the Economic Policy Institute
"[A] brilliant and iconoclastic examination of the major social trend of our time."—Michael Lind, Washington Monthly
Private sector unionism is in decline in the United States. As a result, labor advocates, community groups, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals concerned with the well-being of workers have sought to develop alternative ways to represent workers' interests. Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the Twenty-First Century provides the first in-depth assessment of how effectively labor market institutions are responding to this drastically altered landscape.
This important volume provides case studies of new labor market institutions and new directions for existing institutions. The contributors examine the behavior and impact of new organizations that have formed to solve workplace problems and to bolster the position of workers. They also document how unions employ new strategies to maintain their role in the economic system. While non-union institutions are unlikely to fill the gap left by the decline of unions, the findings suggest that emerging groups and unions might together improve some dimensions of worker well-being. Emerging Labor Market Institutions is the story of workers and institutions in flux, searching for ways to represent labor in the new century.
The End of Arrogance makes a strong case for the end of the hegemony of American ideas in the foreign-policy sphere, examines what a more complex and diverse set of influences could create in terms of a future world order, and offers some important advice on how America can keep up in a more competitive world.
Good Jobs America
Paul Osterman Russell Sage Foundation, 2012 Library of Congress HD5724.O764 2011 | Dewey Decimal 331.10973
America confronts a jobs crisis that has two faces. The first is obvious when we read the newspapers or talk with our friends and neighbors: there are simply not enough jobs to go around. The second jobs crisis is more subtle but no less serious: far too many jobs fall below the standard that most Americans would consider decent work. A quarter of working adults are trapped in jobs that do not provide living wages, health insurance, or much hope of upward mobility. The problem spans all races and ethnic groups and includes both native-born Americans and immigrants. But Good Jobs America provides examples from industries ranging from food services and retail to manufacturing and hospitals to demonstrate that bad jobs can be made into good ones. Paul Osterman and Beth Shulman make a rigorous argument that by enacting policies to help employers improve job quality we can create better jobs, and futures, for all workers. Good Jobs America dispels several myths about low-wage work and job quality. The book demonstrates that mobility out of the low-wage market is a chimera—far too many adults remain trapped in poor-quality jobs. Osterman and Shulman show that while education and training are important, policies aimed at improving earnings equality are essential to lifting workers out of poverty. The book also demolishes the myth that such policies would slow economic growth. The experiences of countries such as France, Germany, and the Netherlands, show that it is possible to mandate higher job standards while remaining competitive in international markets. Good Jobs America shows that both government and the firms that hire low-wage workers have important roles to play in improving the quality of low-wage jobs. Enforcement agencies might bolster the effectiveness of existing regulations by exerting pressure on parent companies, enabling effects to trickle down to the subsidiaries and sub-contractors where low-wage jobs are located. States like New York have already demonstrated that involving community and advocacy groups—such as immigrant rights organizations, social services agencies, and unions—in the enforcement process helps decrease workplace violations. And since better jobs reduce turnover and improve performance, career ladder programs within firms help create positions employees can aspire to. But in order for ladder programs to work, firms must also provide higher rungs—the career advancement opportunities workers need to get ahead. Low-wage employment occupies a significant share of the American labor market, but most of these jobs offer little and lead nowhere. Good Jobs America reappraises what we know about job quality and low-wage employment and makes a powerful argument for our obligation to help the most vulnerable workers. A core principle of U.S. society is that good jobs be made accessible to all. This book proposes that such a goal is possible if we are committed to realizing it.
The economic boom of the 1990s veiled a grim reality: in addition to the growing gap between rich and poor, the gap between good and bad quality jobs was also expanding. The postwar prosperity of the mid-twentieth century had enabled millions of American workers to join the middle class, but as author Arne L. Kalleberg shows, by the 1970s this upward movement had slowed, in part due to the steady disappearance of secure, well-paying industrial jobs. Ever since, precarious employment has been on the rise—paying low wages, offering few benefits, and with virtually no long-term security. Today, the polarization between workers with higher skill levels and those with low skills and low wages is more entrenched than ever. Good Jobs, Bad Jobs traces this trend to large-scale transformations in the American labor market and the changing demographics of low-wage workers. Kalleberg draws on nearly four decades of survey data, as well as his own research, to evaluate trends in U.S. job quality and suggest ways to improve American labor market practices and social policies. Good Jobs, Bad Jobs provides an insightful analysis of how and why precarious employment is gaining ground in the labor market and the role these developments have played in the decline of the middle class. Kalleberg shows that by the 1970s, government deregulation, global competition, and the rise of the service sector gained traction, while institutional protections for workers—such as unions and minimum-wage legislation—weakened. Together, these forces marked the end of postwar security for American workers. The composition of the labor force also changed significantly; the number of dual-earner families increased, as did the share of the workforce comprised of women, non-white, and immigrant workers. Of these groups, blacks, Latinos, and immigrants remain concentrated in the most precarious and low-quality jobs, with educational attainment being the leading indicator of who will earn the highest wages and experience the most job security and highest levels of autonomy and control over their jobs and schedules. Kalleberg demonstrates, however, that building a better safety net—increasing government responsibility for worker health care and retirement, as well as strengthening unions—can go a long way toward redressing the effects of today’s volatile labor market. There is every reason to expect that the growth of precarious jobs—which already make up a significant share of the American job market—will continue. Good Jobs, Bad Jobs deftly shows that the decline in U.S. job quality is not the result of fluctuations in the business cycle, but rather the result of economic restructuring and the disappearance of institutional protections for workers. Only government, employers and labor working together on long-term strategies—including an expanded safety net, strengthened legal protections, and better training opportunities—can help reverse this trend. A Volume in the American Sociological Association’s Rose Series in Sociology.
Political scientist Immanuel Ness thoroughly investigates the use of guest workers in the United States, the largest recipient of migrant labor in the world. Ness argues that the use of migrant labor is increasing in importance and represents despotic practices calculated by key U.S. business leaders in the global economy to lower labor costs and expand profits under the guise of filling a shortage of labor for substandard or scarce skilled jobs.
Drawing on ethnographic field research, government data, and other sources, Ness shows how worker migration and guest worker programs weaken the power of labor in both sending and receiving countries. His in-depth case studies of the rapid expansion of technology and industrial workers from India and hospitality workers from Jamaica reveal how these programs expose guest workers to employers' abuses and class tensions in their home countries while decreasing jobs for American workers and undermining U.S. organized labor.
Where other studies of labor migration focus on undocumented immigrant labor and contend immigrants fill jobs that others do not want, this is the first to truly advance understanding of the role of migrant labor in the transformation of the working class in the early twenty-first century. Questioning why global capitalists must rely on migrant workers for economic sustenance, Ness rejects the notion that temporary workers enthusiastically go to the United States for low-paying jobs. Instead, he asserts the motivations for improving living standards in the United States are greatly exaggerated by the media and details the ways organized labor ought to be protecting the interests of American and guest workers in the United States.
Since the 1970s, the striking increase in immigration to the United States has been accompanied by a marked change in the composition of the immigrant community, with a much higher percentage of foreign-born workers coming from Latin America and Asia and a dramatically lower percentage from Europe.
This timely study is unique in presenting new data sets on the labor force, wage rates, and demographic conditions of both the U.S. and source-area economies through the 1980s. The contributors analyze the economic effects of immigration on the United States and selected source areas, with a focus on Puerto Rico and El Salvador. They examine the education and job performance of foreign-born workers; assimilation, fertility, and wage rates; and the impact of remittances by immigrants to family members on the overall gross domestic product of source areas.
A revealing and original examination of a topic of growing importance, this book will stand as a guide for further research on immigration and on the economies of developing countries.
Are immigrants squeezing Americans out of the work force? Or is competition wth foreign products imported by the United States an even greater danger to those employed in some industries? How do wages and unions fare in foreign-owned firms? And are the media's claims about the number of illegal immigrants misleading?
Prompted by the growing internationalization of the U.S. labor market since the 1970s, contributors to Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market provide an innovative and comprehensive analysis of the labor market impact of the international movements of people, goods, and capital. Their provocative findings are brought into perspective by studies of two other major immigrant-recipient countries, Canada and Australia. The differing experiences of each nation stress the degree to which labor market institutions and economic policies can condition the effect of immigration and trade on economic outcomes
Contributors trace the flow of immigrants by comparing the labor market and migration behavior of individual immigrants, explore the effects of immigration on wages and employment by comparing the composition of the work force in local labor markets, and analyze the impact of trade on labor markets in different industries. A unique data set was developed especially for this study—ranging from an effort to link exports/imports with wages and employment in manufacturing industries, to a survey of illegal Mexican immigrants in the San Diego area—which will prove enormously valuable for future research.
Labor in the New Economy
Edited by Katharine G. Abraham, James R. Spletzer, and Michael Harper University of Chicago Press, 2010 Library of Congress HD5724.C683 2007 | Dewey Decimal 331.120973
As the structure of the economy has changed over the past few decades, researchers and policy makers have been increasingly concerned with how these changes affect workers. In this book, leading economists examine a variety of important trends in the new economy, including inequality of earnings and other forms of compensation, job security, employer reliance on temporary and contract workers, hours of work, and workplace safety and health.
In order to better understand these vital issues, scholars must be able to accurately measure labor market activity. Thus, Labor in the New Economy also addresses a host of measurement issues: from the treatment of outliers, imputation methods, and weighting in the context of specific surveys to evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of data from different sources. At a time when employment is a central concern for individuals, businesses, and the government, this volume provides important insight into the recent past and will be a useful tool for researchers in the future.
Five million workers are employed in a variety of settings along the U.S.–Mexico border, yet labor market outcomes on each side often differ. U.S. workers tend to have low earnings and high unemployment compared with the rest of the country, while workers on the Mexican side of the border are often more prosperous than those in the interior. This book sheds new light on these socioeconomic differentials, along with other labor market issues affecting both sides of the border.
The contributors take up issues that dominate the current discourse— migration, trade, gender, education, earnings, and employment. They analyze labor conditions and their relationship to immigration, and also provide insight into income levels and population concentrations, the relative prosperity of Mexico’s border region, and NAFTA’s impact on trade and living conditions.
Drawing on demographic, economic, and labor data, the chapters treat topics ranging from historical context to directions for future research. They cover the importance of trade to both the United States and Mexico, salary differentials, the determinants of wages among Mexican immigrant women on the U.S. side, and the net effect of Mexican migration on the public coffers in U.S. border states. The book’s concluding policy prescriptions are geared toward improving conditions on the U.S. side without dampening the success of workers in Mexico.
Written to be equally accessible to social scientists, policy makers, and concerned citizens, this book deals with issues often overlooked in national policy discussions and can help readers better understand real-life conditions along the border. It dispels misconceptions regarding labor interdependence between the two countries while offering policy recommendations useful for improving the economic and social well-being of border residents.
This volume, the fourth to result from a remarkably productive collaboration between the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Japan Center for Economic Research, presents a selection of thirteen high-caliber papers addressing issues in the employment practices, labor markets, and health, benefit, and pension policies of the United States and Japan.
After an opening chapter assessing the recent ascendance of the U.S. economy, papers diverge to tackle a range of specific issues. Focusing less on international comparison than on the assembly of high-quality research, contributors hone in on a variety of individual topics. Chapters delve into issues of youth employment, participatory employment, information sharing, fringe benefits, and drug coverage in Japan, as well as the dynamics of medical savings accounts, private insurance coverage, and benefit options in the U.S.
Like previous volumes stemming from NBER/JCER collaboration, this book represents a valuable mass of empirical data on some of the most notable employment and benefits issues in each nation, information that will both anchor and provoke scholarly analysis of these topics well into the future.
Law and Employment analyzes the effects of regulation and deregulation on Latin American labor markets and presents empirically grounded studies of the costs of regulation.
Numerous labor regulations that were introduced or reformed in Latin America in the past thirty years have had important economic consequences. Nobel Prize-winning economist James J. Heckman and Carmen Pagés document the behavior of firms attempting to stay in business and be competitive while facing the high costs of complying with these labor laws. They challenge the prevailing view that labor market regulations affect only the distribution of labor incomes and have little or no impact on efficiency or the performance of labor markets. Using new micro-evidence, this volume shows that labor regulations reduce labor market turnover rates and flexibility, promote inequality, and discriminate against marginal workers.
Along with in-depth studies of Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Jamaica, and Trinidad, Law and Employment provides comparative analysis of Latin American economies against a range of European countries and the United States. The book breaks new ground by quantifying not only the cost of regulation in Latin America, the Caribbean, and in the OECD, but also the broader impact of this regulation.
About 27.5 million Americans—nearly 24 percent of the labor force—earn less than $8.70 an hour, not enough to keep a family of four out of poverty, even working full-time year-round. Job ladders for these workers have been dismantled, limiting their ability to get ahead in today's labor market. Low-Wage America is the most extensive study to date of how the choices employers make in response to economic globalization, industry deregulation, and advances in information technology affect the lives of tens of millions of workers at the bottom of the wage distribution. Based on data from hundreds of establishments in twenty-five industries—including manufacturing, telecommunications, hospitality, and health care—the case studies document how firms' responses to economic restructuring often results in harsh working conditions, reduced benefits, and fewer opportunities for advancement. For instance, increased pressure for profits in newly consolidated hotel chains has led to cost-cutting strategies such as requiring maids to increase the number of rooms they clean by 50 percent. Technological changes in the organization of call centers—the ultimate "disposable workplace"—have led to monitoring of operators' work performance, and eroded job ladders. Other chapters show how the temporary staffing industry has provided paths to better work for some, but to dead end jobs for many others; how new technology has reorganized work in the back offices of banks, raising skill requirements for workers; and how increased competition from abroad has forced U.S. manufacturers to cut costs by reducing wages and speeding production. Although employers' responses to economic pressures have had a generally negative effect on frontline workers, some employers manage to resist this trend and still compete successfully. The benefits to workers of multi-employer training consortia and the continuing relevance of unions offer important clues about what public policy can do to support the job prospects of this vast, but largely overlooked segment of the American workforce. Low-Wage America challenges us to a national self-examination about the nature of low-wage work in this country and asks whether we are willing to tolerate the profound social and economic consequences entailed by these jobs. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Case Studies of Job Quality in Advanced Economies
Low-Wage Work in Denmark
Niels Westergaard-Nielsen Russell Sage Foundation, 2008 Library of Congress HD8544.L69 2008 | Dewey Decimal 331.79809489
The Danish economy offers a dose of American labor market flexibility inside a European welfare state. The Danish government allows employers a relatively high level of freedom to dismiss workers, but also provides generous unemployment insurance. Widespread union coverage and an active system of collective bargaining help regulate working conditions in the absence of strong government regulation. Denmark's rate of low-wage work—8.5 percent—is the lowest of the five countries under analysis. In Low-Wage Work in Denmark, a team of Danish researchers combines comprehensive national registry data with detailed case studies of five industries to explore why low-end jobs are so different in Denmark. Some jobs that are low-paying in the United States, including hotel maids and meat processors, though still demanding, are much more highly compensated in Denmark. And Danes, unlike American workers, do not stay in low-wage jobs for long. Many go on to higher paying jobs, while a significant minority ends up relying temporarily on income support and benefits sustained by one of the highest tax rates in the world. Low-Wage Work in Denmark provides an insightful look at the particularities of the Danish labor market and the lessons it holds for both the United States and the rest of Europe. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Case Studies of Job Quality in Advanced Economies
Low-Wage Work in France
Eve Caroli Russell Sage Foundation, 2008 Library of Congress HD8431.L69 2008 | Dewey Decimal 331.7980944
In France, low wages have historically inspired tremendous political controversy. The social and political issues at stake center on integrating the working class into society and maintaining the stability of the republican regime. A variety of federal policies—including high minimum wages and strong employee protection—serve to ensure that the low-wage workforce stays relatively small. Low-Wage Work in France examines both the benefits and drawbacks of this politically inspired system of worker protection. France's high minimum wage, which is indexed not only to inflation but also to the average increase in employee wages, plays a critical role in limiting the development of low-paid work. Social welfare benefits and a mandatory thirty-five hour work week also make life easier for low-wage workers. Strong employee protection is a central characteristic of the French model, but high levels of protection for employees may also be one of the causes of France's chronically high rate of unemployment. The threat of long-term unemployment may, in turn, contribute to a persistent sense of insecurity among French workers. Low-Wage Work in France provides a lucid analysis of how a highly regulated labor market shapes the experiences of workers—for better and for worse. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Case Studies of Job Quality in Advanced Economies
Low-Wage Work in Germany
Gerhard Bosch Russell Sage Foundation, 2008 Library of Congress HD8451.L69 2008 | Dewey Decimal 331.7980944
In recent years, the German government has intentionally expanded the low-wage work sector in an effort to reduce exceptionally high levels of unemployment. As a result, the share of the German workforce employed in low-paying jobs now rivals that of the United States. Low Wage Work in Germany examines both the federal policies and changing economic conditions that have driven this increase in low-wage work. The new "mini-job" reflects the federal government's attempt to make certain low-paying jobs attractive to both employers and employees. Employers pay a low flat rate for benefits, and employees, who work a limited number of hours per week, are exempt from social security and tax contributions. Other factors, including slow economic growth, a declining collective bargaining system, and the influx of foreign workers, also contribute to the growing incidence of low-wage work. Yet while both Germany and the United States have large shares of low-wage workers, German workers receive health insurance, four weeks of paid vacation, and generous old age support—benefits most low-wage workers in the United States can only dream of. The German experience offers an important opportunity to explore difficult trade-offs between unemployment and low-wage work. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Case Studies of Job Quality in Advanced Economies
The Dutch economy has often been heralded for accomplishing solid employment growth within a generous welfare system. In recent years, the Netherlands has seen a rise in low-wage work and has maintained one of the lowest unemployment rates in the European Union. Low-Wage Work in the Netherlands narrows in on the causes and consequences of this new development. The authors find that the increase in low-wage work can be partly attributed to a steep rise in the number of part-time jobs and non-standard work contracts—46 percent of Dutch workers hold part-time jobs. The decline in full-time work has challenged historically powerful Dutch unions and has led to a slow but steady dismantling of many social insurance programs from 1979 onward. At the same time, there are hopeful lessons to be gleaned from the Dutch model: low-wage workers benefit from a well-developed system of income transfers, and many move on to higher paying jobs. Low-Wage Work in the Netherlands paints a nuanced picture of the Dutch economy by analyzing institutions that both support and challenge its low-wage workforce. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Case Studies of Job Quality in Advanced Economies
The United Kingdom's labor market policies place it in a kind of institutional middle ground between the United States and continental Europe. Low pay grew sharply between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s, in large part due to the decline of unions and collective bargaining and the removal of protections for the low paid. The changes instituted by Tony Blair's New Labour government since 1997, including the introduction of the National Minimum Wage, halted the growth in low pay but have not reversed it. Low-Wage Work in the United Kingdom explains why the current level of low-paying work remains one of the highest in Europe. The authors argue that the failure to deal with low pay reflects a policy approach which stressed reducing poverty, but also centers on the importance of moving people off benefits and into work, even at low wages. The U.K. government has introduced a version of the U.S. welfare to work policies and continues to stress the importance of a highly flexible and competitive labor market. A central policy theme has been that education and training can empower people to both enter work and to move into better paying jobs. The case study research reveals the endemic nature of low paid work and the difficulties workers face in escaping from the bottom end of the jobs ladder. However, compared to the United States, low paid workers in the United Kingdom do benefit from in-work social security benefits, targeted predominately at those with children, and entitlements to non-pay benefits such as annual leave, maternity and sick pay, and crucially, access to state-funded health care. Low-Wage Work in the United Kingdom skillfully illustrates the way that the interactions between government policies, labor market institutions, and the economy have ensured that low pay remains a persistent problem within the United Kingdom. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Case Studies of Job Quality in Advanced Economies
As global flows of goods, capital, information, and people accelerate competitive pressure on businesses throughout the industrialized world, firms have responded by reorganizing work in a variety of efforts to improve efficiency and cut costs. In the United States, where minimum wages are low, unions are weak, and immigrants are numerous, this has often lead to declining wages, increased job insecurity, and deteriorating working conditions for workers with little bargaining power in the lower tiers of the labor market. Low-Wage Work in the Wealthy World builds on an earlier Russell Sage Foundation study (Low-Wage America) to compare the plight of low-wage workers in the United States to five European countries—Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom—where wage supports, worker protections, and social benefits have generally been stronger. By examining low-wage jobs in systematic case studies across five industries, this groundbreaking international study goes well beyond standard statistics to reveal national differences in the quality of low-wage work and the well being of low-wage workers. The United States has a high percentage of low-wage workers—nearly three times more than Denmark and twice more than France. Since the early 1990s, however, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany have all seen substantial increases in low-wage jobs. While these jobs often entail much the same drudgery in Europe and the United States, quality of life for low-wage workers varies substantially across countries. The authors focus their analysis on the "inclusiveness" of each country's industrial relations system, including national collective bargaining agreements and minimum-wage laws, and the generosity of social benefits such as health insurance, pensions, family leave, and paid vacation time—which together sustain a significantly higher quality of life for low-wage workers in some countries. Investigating conditions in retail sales, hospitals, food processing, hotels, and call centers, the book's industry case studies shed new light on how national institutions influence the way employers organize work and shape the quality of low-wage jobs. A telling example: in the United States and several European nations, wages and working conditions of front-line workers in meat processing plants are deteriorating as large retailers put severe pressure on prices, and firms respond by employing low-wage immigrant labor. But in Denmark, where unions are strong, and, to a lesser extent, in France, where the statutory minimum wage is high, the low-wage path is blocked, and firms have opted instead to invest more heavily in automation to raise productivity, improve product quality, and sustain higher wages. However, as Low-Wage Work in the Wealthy World also shows, the European nations' higher level of inclusiveness is increasingly at risk. "Exit options," both formal and informal, have emerged to give employers ways around national wage supports and collectively bargained agreements. For some jobs, such as room cleaners in hotels, stronger labor relations systems in Europe have not had much impact on the quality of work. Low-Wage Work in the Wealthy World offers an analysis of low-wage work in Europe and the United States based on concrete, detailed, and systematic contrasts. Its revealing case studies not only provide a human context but also vividly remind us that the quality and incidence of low-wage work is more a matter of national choice than economic necessity and that government policies and business practices have inevitable consequences for the quality of workers' lives. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Case Studies of Job Quality in Advanced Economies
Markets and Diversity
Sherwin ROSEN Harvard University Press, 2004 Library of Congress HD5706.R67 2004 | Dewey Decimal 331.1
A staunch neoclassical economist, Rosen drew inspiration from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, particularly his theory of compensating wage differentials, which Rosen felt was central to all economic problems involving product differentiation and spatial considerations. The main theme of his collection is how markets handle diversity, including the determination of value in the presence of diversity, the allocation of idiosyncratic buyers to specialized sellers, and the effects of heterogeneity and sorting on inequality.
By one reading, things look pretty good for Americans today: the country is richer than ever before and the unemployment rate is down by half since the Great Recession—lower today, in fact, than for most of the postwar era.
But a closer look shows that something is going seriously wrong. This is the collapse of work—most especially among America’s men. Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economist who holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute, shows that while “unemployment” has gone down, America’s work rate is also lower today than a generation ago—and that the work rate for US men has been spiraling downward for half a century. Astonishingly, the work rate for American males aged twenty-five to fifty-four—or “men of prime working age”—was actually slightly lower in 2015 than it had been in 1940: before the War, and at the tail end of the Great Depression.
Today, nearly one in six prime working age men has no paid work at all—and nearly one in eight is out of the labor force entirely, neither working nor even looking for work. This new normal of “men without work,” argues Eberstadt, is “America’s invisible crisis.”
So who are these men? How did they get there? What are they doing with their time? And what are the implications of this exit from work for American society?
Nicholas Eberstadt lays out the issue and Jared Bernstein from the left and Henry Olsen from the right offer their responses to this national crisis.
For more information, please visit http://menwithoutwork.com.
Over the course of their interaction, economics and migration research have treated each other with mutual indifference. When migration research attempted to overstretch its bounds, economics reduced its analytical scope to those areas that originally seemed to belong to the genuine economic sphere. This volume considers eleven case studies that aim to overcome the artificial barrier between the two disciplines by applying the economic method to migratory phenomena, utilizing economic theories in order to explain migratory patterns, and regarding the structure and development of markets as crucial to the shaping of population stocks and the flow of migrants.
Migration and Irregular Work in Austria offers a fresh new perspective on irregular migrant work by making use of in-depth interviews with migrants themselves. The authors challenge our ability to divide the world of foreign employment into legal and illegal work, and instead evaluate the new manifestations of “irregular migrant work” that have evolved in the wake of EU expansion. Arguing that this work is based on both supply and demand—and thus deeply ingrained in the structure of our advanced economies—this volume should fill a large gap in migration and labor market research.
In the United States work underlies our very concept of who we are. Changes in society and technology have influenced how and where we work, and transformations within the workplace in turn have altered our society.
A Nation at Work addresses the fundamental economic, demographic, policy, and business facts about how the workforce and workplace are changing in the early twenty-first century. Illustrated with over thirty-five graphs, Part I covers essential topics about the American workforce and workers. Part II gathers essays and speeches from the nation's outstanding journalists and workplace analysts. The book incorporates facts and data, including invaluable tables and listings for useful Internet sites, books, and organizations.
Comprehensive in scope, A Nation at Work will help readers reach a better understanding about their own work and the world of work around them.
More and more young men and women today are taking longer and having more difficulty making a successful transition to adulthood. They are staying in school longer, having a harder time finding steady employment at jobs that provide health insurance, and are not marrying and having children until much later in life than their parents did. In The Price of Independence, a roster of distinguished experts diagnose the extent and causes of these trends. Observers of social trends have speculated on the economic changes that may be delaying the transition to adulthood—from worsening job opportunities to mounting student debt and higher housing costs—but few have offered empirical evidence to back up their claims. The Price of Independence represents the first significant analysis of these economic explanations, charting the evolving life circumstances of eighteen to thirty-five year-olds over the last few decades. Lisa Bell, Gary Burtless, Janet Gornick, and Timothy M. Smeeding show that the earnings of young workers in the United States and a number of industrialized countries have declined relative to the cost of supporting a family, which may explain their protracted dependence. In addition, Henry Farber finds that job stability for young male workers has dropped over the last generation. But while economic factors have some influence on young people's transitions to adulthood, The Price of Independence shows that changes in the economic climate can not account for the magnitude of the societal shift in the timing of independent living, marriage, and childbearing. Aaron Yelowitz debunks the myth that steep housing prices are forcing the young to live at home—housing costs actually fell between 1980 and 2000 once lower interest rates and tax subsidies are taken into account. And Ngina Chiteji reveals that average student loan debt is only $3,500 per household. The trend toward starting careers and families later appears to have more to do with changing social norms, as well as policies that have broadened access to higher education, than with changes in the economy. For better or worse, the current generation is redefining the nature and boundaries of what it means to be a young adult. The Price of Independence documents just how dramatically the modern lifecycle has changed and offers evidence as an antidote to much of the conventional wisdom about these social changes.
Over the course of the twentieth century, Sweden carried out one of the most ambitious experiments by a capitalist market economy in developing a large and active welfare state. Sweden's generous social programs and the economic equality they fostered became an example for other countries to emulate. Of late, Sweden has also been much discussed as a model of how to deal with financial and economic crisis, due to the country's recovery from a banking crisis in the mid-1990s. At that time economists heatedly debated whether the welfare state caused Sweden's crisis and should be reformed—a debate with clear parallels to current concerns over capitalism.
Bringing together leading economists, Reforming the Welfare State examines Sweden's policies in response to the mid-1990s crisis and the implications for the subsequent recovery. Among the issues investigated are the way changes in the labor market, tax and benefit policies, local government policy, industrial structure, and international trade affected Sweden's recovery. The way that Sweden addressed its economic challenges provides valuable insight into the viability of large welfare states, and more broadly, into the way modern economies deal with crisis.
As a result of its political and economic turmoil for much of the postwar period, Italy was considered the "bad seed" in the European community. Harsh ideological divisions, chronic executive instability, inefficient bureaucracy, uneven socio-economic development, organized crime, and unbalanced public finances all contributed to this negative perception of the nation. Yet a massive economic and social overhaul was launched in the 1990s as part of Italy's efforts to meet the famous Maastricht requirements in order to join the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).
This book examines the processes Italy underwent to become part of the integrated European community and skillfully analyzes the consequences of the "Maastricht process" by exploring the effect it had on governmental and social actions and modes of orientation. Rescued by Europe? offers sharp insights into the importance of welfare state reform to current Berlusconi government, and how the weakening of the European Union's constraints has renewed the resistance to further changes. Ferrera and Gualmini ultimately argue that the constraints and opportunities linked to European integration have been the driving forces behind Italy's positive expansions, yet even with these reforms, there is still a long road ahead for European integration and Italy's political future.
The positive social benefits of low unemployment are many—it helps to reduce poverty and crime and fosters more stable families and communities. Yet conventional wisdom—born of the stagflation of the 1970s—holds that sustained low unemployment rates run the risk of triggering inflation. The last five years of the 1990s—in which unemployment plummeted and inflation remained low—called this conventional wisdom into question. The Roaring Nineties provides a thorough review of the exceptional economic performance of the late 1990s and asks whether it was due to a lucky combination of economic circumstances or whether the new economy has somehow wrought a lasting change in the inflation-safe rate of unemployment. Led by distinguished economists Alan Krueger and Robert Solow, a roster of twenty-six respected economic experts analyzes the micro- and macroeconomic factors that led to the unexpected coupling of low unemployment and low inflation. The more macroeconomically oriented chapters clearly point to a reduction in the inflation-safe rate of unemployment. Laurence Ball and Robert Moffitt see the slow adjustment of workers' wage aspirations in the wake of rising productivity as a key factor in keeping inflation at bay. And Alan Blinder and Janet Yellen credit sound monetary policy by the Federal Reserve Board with making the best of fortunate circumstances, such as lower energy costs, a strong dollar, and a booming stock market. Other chapters in The Roaring Nineties examine how the interaction between macroeconomic and labor market conditions helped sustain high employment growth and low inflation. Giuseppe Bertola, Francine Blau, and Lawrence M. Kahn demonstrate how greater flexibility in the U.S. labor market generated more jobs in this country than in Europe, but at the expense of greater earnings inequality. David Ellwood examines the burgeoning shortage of skilled workers, and suggests policies—such as tax credits for businesses that provide on-the-job-training—to address the problem. And James Hines, Hilary Hoynes, and Alan Krueger elaborate the benefits of sustained low unemployment, including budget surpluses that can finance public infrastructure and social welfare benefits—a perspective often lost in the concern over higher inflation rates. While none of these analyses promise that the good times of the 1990s will last forever, The Roaring Nineties provides a unique analysis of recent economic history, demonstrating how the nation capitalized on a lucky confluence of economic factors, helping to create the longest peacetime boom in American history. Copublished with The Century Foundation
This volume, the first in a new series by the National Bureau of Economic Research that compares labor markets in different countries, examines social and labor market policies in Canada and the United States during the 1980s. It shows that subtle differences in unemployment compensation, unionization, immigration policies, and income maintenance programs have significantly affected economic outcomes in the two countries.
-Canada's social safety net, more generous than the American one, produced markedly lower poverty rates in the 1980s.
-Canada saw a smaller increase in earnings inequality than the United States did, in part because of the strength of Canadian unions, which have twice the participation that U.S. unions do.
-Canada's unemployment figures were much higher than those in the United States, not because the Canadian economy failed to create jobs but because a higher percentage of nonworking time was reported as unemployment.
These disparities have become noteworthy as policy makers cite the experiences of the other country to support or oppose particular initiatives.
As the Clinton administration considers major overhauls in health insurance, welfare, and labor market regulation, it is important for economists and policymakers to understand the impact of social and welfare programs on employment rates. This volume explores how programs such as social security, income transfers, and child care in Western Europe, the United States, and Japan have affected labor market flexibility—the ability of workers to adjust to fast-growing segments of the economy.
Does tying health insurance to employment limit job mobility? Do housing policies inhibit workers from moving to new jobs in different areas? What are the effects of daycare and maternity leave policies on working mothers? The authors explore these and many other questions in an effort to understand why European unemployment rates are so high compared with the U.S. rate. Through an examination of diverse data sets across different countries, the authors find that social protection programs do not strongly affect labor market flexibility.
A valuable comparison of labor markets and welfare programs, this book demonstrates how social protection policies have affected employment rates around the globe.
Globalization, technological change, and deregulation have made the American marketplace increasingly competitive in recent decades, but for many workers this "new economy" has entailed heightened job insecurity, lower wages, and scarcer benefits. As the job market has grown more volatile, a variety of labor market intermediaries—organizations that help job seekers find employment—have sprung up, from private temporary agencies to government "One-Stop Career Centers." In Staircases or Treadmills? Chris Benner, Laura Leete, and Manuel Pastor investigate what approaches are most effective in helping workers to secure jobs with decent wages and benefits, and they provide specific policy recommendations for how job-matching organizations can better serve disadvantaged workers. Staircases or Treadmills? is the first comprehensive study documenting the prevalence of all types of labor market intermediaries and investigating how these intermediaries affect workers' employment opportunities. Benner, Leete, and Pastor draw on years of research in two distinct regional labor markets—"old economy" Milwaukee and "new economy" Silicon Valley—including a first-of-its-kind random survey of the prevalence and impacts of intermediaries, and a wide range of interviews with intermediary agencies' staff and clients. One of the main obstacles that disadvantaged workers face is that social networks of families and friends are less effective in connecting job-seekers to stable, quality employment. Intermediaries often serve as a substitute method for finding a job. Which substitute is chosen, however, matters: The authors find that the most effective organizations—including many unions, community colleges, and local non-profits—actively foster contacts between workers and employers, tend to make long-term investments in training for career development, and seek to transform as well as satisfy market demands. But without effective social networks to help workers locate the best intermediaries, most rely on private temporary agencies and other organizations that offer fewer services and, statistical analysis shows, often channel their participants into jobs with low wages and few benefits. Staircases or Treadmills? suggests that, to become more effective, intermediary organizations of all types need to focus more on training workers, teaching networking skills, and fostering contact between workers and employers in the same industries. A generation ago, rising living standards were broadly distributed and coupled with relatively secure employment. Today, many Americans fear that heightened job insecurity is overshadowing the benefits of dynamic economic growth. Staircases or Treadmills? is a stimulating guide to how private and public job-matching institutions can empower disadvantaged workers to share in economic progress.
Offering new research on strategic factors in the development of the nineteenth century American economy—labor, capital, and political structure—the contributors to this volume employ a methodology innovated by Robert W. Fogel, one of the leading pioneers of the "new economic history." Fogel's work is distinguished by the application of economic theory and large-scale quantitative evidence to long-standing historical questions.
These sixteen essays reveal, by example, the continuing vitality of Fogel's approach. The authors use an astonishing variety of data, including genealogies, the U.S. federal population census manuscripts, manumission and probate records, firm accounts, farmers' account books, and slave narratives, to address collectively market integration and its impact on the lives of Americans. The evolution of markets in agricultural and manufacturing labor is considered first; that concerning capital and credit follows. The demography of free and slave populations is the subject of the third section, and the final group of papers examines the extra-market institutions of governments and unions.
Studies in Labor Markets
Sherwin Rosen University of Chicago Press, 1981 Library of Congress HD4813.S78 | Dewey Decimal 331
The papers in this volume present an excellent sampling of the best of current research in labor economics, combining the most sophisticated theory and econometric methods with high-quality data on a variety of problems.
Originally presented at a Universities-National Bureau Committee for Economic Research conference on labor markets in 1978, and not published elsewhere, the thirteen papers treat four interrelated themes: labor mobility, job turnover, and life-cycle dynamics; the analysis of unemployment compensation and employment policy; labor market discrimination; and labor market information and investment. The Introduction by Sherwin Rosen provides a thoughtful guide to the contents of the papers and offers suggestions for continuing research.
From the traditional craft hiring hall to the Web site Monster.com, a multitude of institutions exist to facilitate the matching of workers with firms. The diversity of such Labor Market Intermediaries (LMIs) encompasses criminal records providers, public employment offices, labor unions, temporary help agencies, and centralized medical residency matches. Studies of Labor Market Intermediation analyzes how these third-party actors intercede where workers and firms meet, thereby aiding, impeding, and, in some cases, exploiting the matching process.
By building a conceptual foundation for analyzing the roles that these understudied economic actors serve in the labor market, this volume develops both a qualitative and quantitative sense of their significance to market operation and worker welfare. Cross-national in scope, Studies of Labor Market Intermediation is distinctive in coalescing research on a set of market institutions that are typically treated as isolated entities, thus setting a research agenda for analyzing the changing shape of employment in an era of rapid globalization and technological change.
Inequality has been on the rise in America for more than two decades. This socially divisive trend began in the economic doldrums of the 1970s and continued through the booming 1980s, when surging economic tides clearly failed to lift all ships. Instead, escalating inequality in both individual earnings and family income widened the gulf between rich and poor and led to the much-publicized decline of the middle class. Uneven Tides brings together a distinguished group of economists to confront the crucial questions about this unprecedented rise in inequality. Just how large and pervasive was it? What were its principal causes? And why did it continue in the 1980s, when previous periods of national economic growth have generally reduced inequality? Reviewing the best current evidence, the essays in Uneven Tides show that rising inequality is a complex phenomenon, the result of a web of circumstances inherent in the nation's current industrial, social, and political situation. Once attributed to the rising supply of inexperienced workers—as baby boomers, new immigrants, and women entered the labor market—the growing inequality in individual earnings is revealed in Uneven Tides to be the direct result of the economy's increasing demand for skilled workers. The authors explore many of the possible causes of this trend, including the employment shift from manufacturing to the service sector, the heightened importance of technology in the workplace, the decline of unionization, and the intensified efforts to compete in a global marketplace. Uneven Tides also examines the equally dramatic growth in the inequality of family income, and reviews the effects of family size, the age and education of household heads, and the transition to both two-earner and single-parent families. Although these demographic shifts played a role, what emerges most clearly is an understanding of the powerful influence of public policy, as increasingly regressive taxes, declining welfare benefits, and a stagnant minimum wage continue to amplify the effects of market forces on income. With the rise in inequality now much in the headlines, it is clear that our nation's ability to reverse these shifting currents requires deeper understanding of their causes and consequences. Uneven Tides is the first book to get beyond the news stories to a clear analysis of the changing fortunes of America's families. It should be required reading for anyone with a serious interest in the economic underpinnings of the country's social problems.
Deindustrialization in the United States has triggered record-setting joblessness in manufacturing centers from Detroit to Baltimore. At the same time, global competition and technological change have actually stimulated both new businesses and new jobs. The jury is still out, however, on how many of these positions represent a significant source of long-term job quality and security. Where Are All the Good Jobs Going? addresses the most pressing questions for today's workers: whether the U.S. labor market can still produce jobs with good pay and benefits for the majority of workers and whether these jobs can remain stable over time. What constitutes a "good" job, who gets them, and are they becoming more or less secure? Where Are All the Good Jobs Going? examines U.S. job quality and volatility from the perspectives of both workers and employers. The authors analyze the Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics (LEHD) data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, and the book covers data for twelve states during twelve years, 1992–2003, resulting in an unprecedented examination of workers and firms in several industries over time. Counter to conventional wisdom, the authors find that good jobs are not disappearing, but their character and location have changed. The market produces fewer good jobs in manufacturing and more in professional services and finance. Not surprisingly, the best jobs with the highest pay still go to the most educated workers. The most vulnerable workers—older, low-income, and low-skilled—work in the most insecure environments where they can be easily downsized or displaced by a fickle labor market. A higher federal minimum wage and increased unionization can contribute to the creation of well paying jobs. So can economic strategies that help smaller metropolitan areas support new businesses. These efforts, however, must function in tandem with policies that prepare workers for available positions, such as improving general educational attainment and providing career education. Where Are All the Good Jobs Going? makes clear that future policies will need to address not only how to produce good jobs but how to produce good workers. This cohesive study takes the necessary first steps with a sensible approach to the needs of workers and the firms that hire them.
Over the last three decades, large-scale economic developments, such as technological change, the decline in unionization, and changing skill requirements, have exacted their biggest toll on low-wage workers. These workers often possess few marketable skills and few resources with which to support themselves during periods of economic transition. In Working and Poor, a distinguished group of economists and policy experts, headlined by editors Rebecca Blank, Sheldon Danziger, and Robert Schoeni, examine how economic and policy changes over the last twenty-five years have affected the well-being of low-wage workers and their families. Working and Poor examines every facet of the economic well-being of less-skilled workers, from employment and earnings opportunities to consumption behavior and social assistance policies. Rebecca Blank and Heidi Schierholz document the different trends in work and wages among less-skilled women and men. Between 1979 and 2003, labor force participation rose rapidly for these women, along with more modest increases in wages, while among the men both employment and wages fell. David Card and John DiNardo review the evidence on how technological changes have affected less-skilled workers and conclude that the effect has been smaller than many observers claim. Philip Levine examines the effectiveness of the Unemployment Insurance program during recessions. He finds that the program's eligibility rules, which deny benefits to workers who have not met minimum earnings requirements, exclude the very people who require help most and should be adjusted to provide for those with the highest need. On the other hand, Therese J. McGuire and David F. Merriman show that government help remains a valuable source of support during economic downturns. They find that during the most recent recession in 2001, when state budgets were stretched thin, legislatures resisted political pressure to cut spending for the poor. Working and Poor provides a valuable analysis of the role that public policy changes can play in improving the plight of the working poor. A comprehensive analysis of trends over the last twenty-five years, this book provides an invaluable reference for the public discussion of work and poverty in America. A Volume in the National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy