The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: Job Quality in the United States over the Three Most Recent Business Cycles

Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research

The number of good jobs -jobs that pay at least $17 an hour, and provide health insurance and a pension — declined by 3.5 million between 2000 and 2006, according to a new report by the Washington, DC-based Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The report, “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: Job Quality in the United States over the Three Most Recent Business Cycles,” (PDF; 274 KB) found that the economy has created fewer good jobs in the 2000s than was the case over comparable periods in the 1980s and 1990s.

The research defined a good job as one that pays $17 an hour, or $34,000 annually, has employer-provided health care and offers a pension. The $17 per hour figure is equal to the inflation-adjusted earnings of the typical male worker in 1979, the first year of data analyzed in the report.
Using this definition, the share of good jobs fell 2.6 percentage points, or about 3.5 million jobs, between 2000 and 2006. This decline was much sharper than what the economy experienced over comparable periods in the two preceding business cycles. Between 1979 and 1985, for example, the share of good jobs fell 0.5 percentage points. Between 1989 and 1995, the drop was just 0.l percentage points.

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