Category Archives: Workforce

Women at Work: A Progress Report

Source: W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Economic Letter, Vol. 2 no. 5, May 2007

Recent decades have seen a revolution in women’s work, marked by gains in labor force participation, college study, occupations and entrepreneurship. A commitment to education and work suggests U.S. women will continue to fare better at work, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll match recent decades’ rate of progress.

The growth of their labor force participation has leveled off in recent years, suggesting the surge of women into the job market has run its course. Women’s share of business ownership has risen only modestly. With a large portion of today’s women already seeking higher education, further increases in the share of college graduates will come only slowly. Women approach or have achieved parity in many professions.

The past 50 years’ experience suggests, however, that U.S. women will respond to incentives and opportunities. They’ve shown a desire to channel their efforts into sectors and occupations that are likely to grow. It’s a good formula for further progress in the workplace.

What Can Worker Training Do? Plenty, But Career Ladders Need to Lead to Rewarding Jobs

Source: Joan Fitzgerald and Andrew Sum, American Prospect, Vol. 18 no. 5, May 2007

One out of every six full-time U.S. workers earns less than 125 percent of the poverty line—under $18,865 a year for a family of three. And the share of low-wage workers is considerably higher in many of the sectors with the most job growth: retailing, hotel and food services, health care, and human services. Full-time workers in the bottom tenth of the wage distribution saw their weekly earnings decline by about 1 percent over the past six years, reversing the trend of rising wages that occurred from 1995 to 2000. For low-skilled youths, finding even a bad job has become more difficult. The problem is especially acute for young black men, with only 33 percent of black high school dropouts able to secure any type of job, and only 25 percent working full time in 2005.

Workforce development can be a promising strategy, but by itself it cannot compensate for inadequate schools, the serial disadvantages of poverty in early childhood, and a labor market that often leads only to more low-wage jobs. Workers would have a far better chance of improving their earnings if they were better educated before they entered the workforce, and if education and training were complemented by other labor market interventions such as higher minimum wages, stronger unions, and a national strategy of creating good jobs.

State Public Health Employee Worker Shortage Report: A Civil Service Recruitment and Retention Crisis

Source: Council of State Governments, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, National Association of State Personnel Executives, 2004

In October 2002 the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE) conducted a workforce survey of all state agencies. The resulting report, “State Employee Worker Shortages: The Impending Crisis,” noted that state governments could lose more than 30 percent of their workforce to retirement, private-sector employers, and alternative careers by 2006, and that health agencies would be the hardest hit.

The findings from the CSG/NASPE workforce survey appeared to confirm the anecdotal evidence and other information that was emerging about the pending crisis in the state public health workforce. The combination of that evidence and the CSG/NASPE findings were so compelling that ASTHO concluded a broader inquiry and analysis of state public health workforce trends were warranted. Consequently, in November and December of 2003, ASTHO surveyed its members, the senior health officials of the 57 states and territories (and the District of Columbia), on a wide spectrum of workforce trends and indicators. ASTHO received responses from 37 states. This report contains the results of the survey.

Trends in Labor Force Participation in the United States

Source: Abraham Mosisa and Steven Hipple, Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 129 no. 10, October 2006

After a long-term increase, the overall labor force participation rate has declined in recent years. Although there was a sharp rise in participation among individuals aged 55 years and older, this increase did not offset declines in the participation rates of younger persons. Using labor force estimates from the Current Population Survey (CPS), this article analyzes historical trends in labor force participation, focusing primarily on recent trends. The analysis highlights changes in labor force participation among various demographic groups, discusses possible reasons for those changes, and explains how the changes affected the overall participation rate.