Where Are All the Good Jobs Going?

Where Are All the Good Jobs Going?: What National and Local Job Quality and Dynamics Mean for U.S. Workers

Harry J. Holzer
Julia I. Lane
David B. Rosenblum
Fredrik Andersson
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Where Are All the Good Jobs Going?
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-723-2
    Subjects: Economics, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. About the Authors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction and Background
    (pp. 1-17)

    The combination of inequality and volatility that characterizes the U.S. labor market has clearly generated a great deal ofinsecurity,even among currently employed Americans. They worry about when they might lose their jobs, how they might sustain themselves and their families during a period of joblessness, whether their wages and salaries on their next jobs will be as good as the ones they might lose, and also whether or not they will be covered by health insurance and other beneits.¹ This was true even before the Great Recession of the past few years, and it seems to have become...

  6. Chapter 2 Good Jobs: Basic Facts and Trends Over Time
    (pp. 18-56)

    Are good jobs really disappearing in the United States over the long term, as many notable authors and commentators (like Lou Dobbs and Harold Meyerson, among others) frequently suggest?

    Any discussion of job quality and volatility must begin with the question of how we measure this quality in the first place. The previous chapter laid out a few different deinitions of “good jobs” and suggested a variety of ways in which they might be measured. It also raised important questions about exactly which workers fill these jobs and how the availability and nature of the jobs themselves (as well as...

  7. Chapter 3 Job Quality and Volatility: How Do They Affect Worker Earnings?
    (pp. 57-92)

    In the previous chapter, we showed that high-quality jobs are still relatively available in the United States, though apparently less so than before for workers with lower levels of education or skill. This relative change in the availability of good jobs for less-skilled workers could have important implications for recent and future trends in economic inequality.

    This set of indings also raises some important questions regarding the relationship between job quality and volatility and what it might mean for workerinsecurity.Of course, workers can change jobs for lots of reasons—some by choice, some not. Those who choose to...

  8. Chapter 4 Job Quality and Volatility in Metropolitan Areas: A Tale of Two (Kinds of) Cities
    (pp. 93-127)

    The previous two chapters have demonstrated the importance of job quality in U.S. labor markets and indicated that the access of less-skilled workers to high-quality jobs might be diminishing over time. Job volatility can also have either positive or negative impacts on workers, depending on the extent to which workers can replace the high-quality jobs that they lose or leave with others of equal or better quality. The previous chapter clearly showed that the overall state of the labor market has very important implications for the ability of displaced workers to obtain good jobs to replace those that they have...

  9. Chapter 5 Good Jobs and Firm Dynamics
    (pp. 128-142)

    “A giant sucking sound” was the way Ross Perot described the effect of globalization on middle-income American jobs during the 1982 presidential election. The alleged vanishing of well-paid jobs has been a theme of newspaper and magazine articles ever since. These concerns make sense. Although the forces of technological change, globalization, and deregulation may lead to greater productivtity, this is hardly reassuring to workers who face the loss of current jobs and suffer uncertainty about the earnings in their future jobs.

    The previous chapters have identified the importance of good jobs—and the economic costs borne by workers who lose...

  10. Chapter 6 Conclusion and policy Implications
    (pp. 143-170)

    What have we learned about long-term trends in job quality and volatility in the previous chapters, and what do these indings imply for trends in inequality and insecurity among workers in the United States? What kinds of good jobs are growing in this country, and who is getting them? What happens to workers who lose good jobs, especially if they are less educated? What kinds of firms generate new good jobs? How do these trends play out in metropolitan areas, large and small? And what does all of this mean for policy—especially in the aftermath of the Great Recession...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 171-184)
  12. References
    (pp. 185-198)
  13. Index
    (pp. 199-214)