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Job Growth and the Quality of Jobs in the U.S. Economy

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Abstract

During the 1980's employment grew rapidly in the United States, prompting many analysts to label the U.S. economy the great American job machine. But while aggregate employment increased rapidly during the 1980's, many did not benefit from the expansion. Among less educated prime-age males, unemployment rates rose and labor force participation rates declined sharply. Moreover, although job growth was high, many argued that the quality of American jobs as measured by wages, benefits, and job security deteriorated. The decline of jobs in the high-paying manufacturing sector and the growth of jobs in the low-paying services sector, the growth in part-time and temporary employment, and the general decline in real wages among less-educated, less-skilled workers have been presented as evidence of an erosion in job quality. The issue of job growth and job quality in the American economy has sparked extensive debate among policymakers and academics over the last decade. The aim of this paper is to critically examine the evidence on job growth and on wages and other indicators of job quality in the U.S. economy during the 1980's and 1990's. To place the American experience in perspective, selected comparisons are made to the experiences in other industrialized countries. The paper is divided into three main sections. In section 1, I look at employment growth in the United States during the 1980's and 1990's. I examine whether and to what extent employment growth was greater in the United States than in other industrialized countries and whether strong employment growth in the United States signaled a healthy economy. I compare the employment performance of the U.S. economy during the 1980's with that in other industrialized countries, and study the factors underlying the cross-country differences in employment growth: differences in the growth of the working age population, differences in the growth in labor force participation, and differences in the growth in unemployment.
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  • Susan N. Houseman, "undated". "Job Growth and the Quality of Jobs in the U.S. Economy," Upjohn Working Papers snh19951, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:snh19951
    Note: Appears in Labour (Special Issue): S93-S124
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    Cited by:

    1. Farber, Henry S. & Levy, Helen, 2000. "Recent trends in employer-sponsored health insurance coverage: are bad jobs getting worse?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 93-119, January.
    2. Henry S. Farber & Helen Levy, 1998. "Recent Trends in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Coverage: Are Bad Jobs Getting Worse?," Working Papers 781, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    3. Antonio Avalos, 2010. "Migration, Unemployment, And Wages: The Case Of The California San Joaquin Valley," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(1), pages 123-135, January.
    4. Henry S. Farber & Helen Levy, 1998. "Recent Trends in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Coverage: Are Bad Jobs Getting Worse?," Working Papers 781, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    5. John Turner (ed.), 2001. "Pay at Risk: Compensation and Employment Risk in the United States and Canada," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number par.
    6. Ochel, Wolfgang, 1998. "Mehr Beschäftigung und weniger Arbeitslosigkeit : Amerika, hast du es besser? (More employment and less unemployment : America - are you any better off?)," Mitteilungen aus der Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 31(2), pages 262-276.
    7. Schmid, Günther, 1996. "Beschäftigungswunder Niederlande? Ein Vergleich der Beschäftigungssysteme in den Niederlanden und in Deutschland," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment FS I 96-206, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    8. Damir Esenaliev & Neil T. N. Ferguson, 2019. "The Impact of Job Quality on Wellbeing: Evidence from Kyrgyzstan," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 144(1), pages 337-378, July.
    9. Ochel, Wolfgang, 1998. "Mehr Beschäftigung und weniger Arbeitslosigkeit : Amerika, hast du es besser? (More employment and less unemployment : America - are you any better off?)," Mitteilungen aus der Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 31(2), pages 262-276.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    job growth; job quality; labor demand;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand

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