Where Have All the Good Jobs Gone?

Source: John Schmitt and Janelle Jones, Center for Economic and Policy Research, July 2012

From the summary:
The U.S. workforce is substantially older and better-educated than it was at the end of the 1970s. The typical worker in 2010 was seven years older than in 1979. In 2010, over one-third of US workers had a four-year college degree or more, up from just one-fifth in 1979. Given that older and better-educated workers generally receive higher pay and better benefits, we would have expected the share of “good jobs” in the economy to have increased in line with improvements in the quality of workforce. Instead, the share of “good jobs” in the U.S. economy has actually fallen. The estimates in this paper, which control for increases in age and education of the population, suggest that relative to 1979 the economy has lost about one-third (28 to 38 percent) of its capacity to generate good jobs. The data show only minor differences between 2007, before the Great Recession began, and 2010, the low point for the labor market. The deterioration in the economy’s ability to generate good jobs reflects long-run changes in the U.S. economy, not short-run factors related to the recession or recent economic policy….

…The standard explanation for the deterioration in the economy’s ability to create good jobs is that most workers’ skills have not kept up with the rapid pace of technological change. But, if technological change were behind the decline in good jobs, then we would expect that a higher – probably substantially higher – share of workers with a four-year college degree or more would have good jobs today. Instead, at every age level, workers with four years or more of college are actually less likely to have a good job now than three decades ago. This development is even more surprising because the economy also has almost twice as many workers with advanced degrees today as it did in 1979.

We believe, instead, that the decline in the economy’s ability to create good jobs is related to a deterioration in the bargaining power of workers, especially those at the middle and the bottom of the income scale….
See also:
A Closer Look at Good Jobs By Education Level
Source: John Schmitt, Center for Economic and Policy Research, CEPR blog, August 8, 2012
Does This Job Come With a Retirement Plan?
Source: Janelle Jones, Center for Economic and Policy Research, CEPR blog, August 2, 2012

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