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12 Million Salaried Workers Are Missing


  • Daniel S. Hamermesh


Evidence from Current Population Surveys through 1997, various cohorts of the National Longitudinal Surveys, and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics suggests that the fraction of American employees paid salaries stayed constant from the late 1960s through the late 1970s, but fell slightly thereafter through the late 1990s. Accounting for the changing industrial, occupational, demographic and economic structure of the work force shows that the fraction was 9 percentage points below what would have been expected in the late 1970s. This shortfall is not explained by growth in the temporary help industry, by institutional changes in overtime or wage payment regulation, by the increasing openness of American labor and product markets, nor by convergence of nonwage aspects of hourly and salaried employment. A theory of worker commitment and employers' monitoring costs explains the determination of pay status. While monitoring costs may have changed consistent with the decline in salaried work, only declining worker commitment is also consistent with an observed relative decline in earnings of hourly workers. Various waves of the General Social Surveys provide direct evidence that workers' commitment/trustworthiness declined during this period. Data from several cohorts of men in the NLS imply that there was a detrimental change in the work attitudes of young men in the lower half of the distribution of early-career job satisfaction, a conclusion that is bolstered by the relative decline in job tenure among hourly-paid workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2000. "12 Million Salaried Workers Are Missing," NBER Working Papers 8016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8016
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Kuhn & Fernando Lozano, 2005. "The Expanding Workweek? Understanding Trends in Long Work Hours Among U.S. Men, 1979-2004," NBER Working Papers 11895, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Whillans, Ashley V. & Dunn, Elizabeth W., 2015. "Thinking about time as money decreases environmental behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 44-52.
    3. Peter Kuhn & Fernando Lozano, 2008. "The Expanding Workweek? Understanding Trends in Long Work Hours among U.S. Men, 1979-2006," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 311-343, April.
    4. Stephanie Aaronson & Andrew Figura, 2010. "How Biased Are Measures Of Cyclical Movements In Productivity And Hours?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(3), pages 539-558, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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