Who's Not Working and Why: Employment, Cognitive Skills, Wages, and the Changing U.S. Labor Market

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Overview

This book presents a view of the operations of the labor market totally different from the conventional wisdom. The authors present data showing on one hand that jobs requiring a high level of education are increasing more slowly than those requiring somewhat fewer educational credentials. On the other hand, these jobs requiring less education are increasing faster than those requiring still less formal education. Additionally, Professors Pryor and Schaffer show how women are replacing men in jobs requiring higher levels of education. Using these insights the authors also explain why wages have become more unequal, why wages in those jobs requiring extra-high cognitive skills have risen and why all other wages have stagnated or fallen in the past quarter century.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Their approach is novel and so are their conclusions." Choice

"Frederic L. Pryor and David L. Schaffer, in Who's Not Working and Why, explore the impact of those changes on the distribution of jobs and wages and on the character of structural unemployment. Their arguments are illuminating and provocative...they are well worth heeding. A valuable contribution to the literature on changing patterns of employment, the work is suitable for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses dealing with labor economics or the character of the new economy." Perspectives on Political Science

"Pryor and Schaffer perform a useful service by offering a novel analysis of the three major labor-market phenomena of the past three decades — rising inequality, growing female participation in the labor force and, until recently, higher unemployment at each cyclical peak. Instead of the usual focus on formal education, they demonstrate the importance of cognitive skills and their differential use among occupations. Their approach should force a rethinking of our views of the central facts of the American labor market." Daniel S. Hamermesh, University of Texas, Austin

"Pryor and Schaffer perform a useful service by offering a novel analysis of the three major labor-market phenomena of the past three decades — rising inequality, growing female participation in the labor force and, until recently, higher unemployment at each cyclical peak. Instead of the usual focus on formal education, they demonstrate the importance of cognitive skills and their differential use among occupations. Their approach should force a rethinking of our views of the central facts of the American labor market." Daniel S. Hamermesh, University of Texas, Austin

"Pryor and Schaffer have produced an extremely insightful analysis of the growing inequality of wage incomes in U.S. labor markets and the decline in job opportunities for adult males. Their book both challenges and extends much of the conventional wisdom on the role of education and cognitive skills as determinants of these trends." Barry Bosworth, Brookings Institution

"The authors use a wealth of datasets and many different statistical methodologies to quantify the causes of what they call a fundamental failure of the US labor market. In doing so, Pryor and Schaffer debunk the myth that the low-skilled have been disproportionately hurt by imports, immigration, and changes in industry mix. Surprisingly, they show that the demand for workers in low-skilled occupations has actually increased over the last three decades, rather than decreased. Nevertheless, their policy prescriptions include the upgrading of workers skillsets. This volume offers a comprehensive and coherent examination of the key explanations for the hollowing out of the US labor market." Olivia Mitchell, The Wharton School

"The authors use a wealth of datasets and many different statistical methodologies to quantify the causes of what they call a fundamental failure of the US labor market. In doing so, Pryor and Schaffer debunk the myth that the low-skilled have been disproportionately hurt by imports, immigration, and changes in industry mix. Surprisingly, they show that the demand for workers in low-skilled occupations has actually increased over the last three decades, rather than decreased. Nevertheless, their policy prescriptions include the upgrading of workers skillsets. This volume offers a comprehensive and coherent examination of the key explanations for the hollowing out of the US labor market." Olivia Mitchell, The Wharton School

"Their approach is novel and so are their conclusions." Choice

"Their approach is novel and so are their conclusions." Choice

"In this ingenious and important book, Pryor and Schaffer attempt to make sense of observations about resent U.S. history. Part of what makes their treatment ingenious is the fact that they supplement the Current Population Survey, the customary source in this sort of inquiry, with data on cognitive capacities from the National Adult Literacy Survey, which contain information on both language and quantitative skills." Canada Review of Sociology Anthropology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521651523
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2012
  • Pages: 233
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

List of tables and charts
Acknowledgments
1 The Changing Labor Market 1
2 Cognitive Skills, Education, and Other Determinants of Employment 19
3 Upskilling and Educational Upgrading of Occupations 47
4 Labor Force Displacement Mechanisms 74
5 Wage Levels 102
6 The Distribution of Hourly Wages 137
7 Five Misleading Theories about Joblessness 170
8 Notes on Subjective and Institutional Factors 205
9 Final Observations 216
App. 1.1 The Current Population Survey Data 234
App. 1.2 Unemployment and Labor Force Non-Participation of the Prime-Age Population 234
App. 1.3 Determinants of Employment in 1971 and 1994 237
App. 2.1 The Data from the National Adult Literacy Survey 240
App. 2.2 Notes on the Education Variable in the Current Population Survey 243
App. 3.1 Imputing 1994-95 Census Occupation Codes for the March 1971 and 1972 CPS Samples 248
App. 3.2 Biases in the Data on Occupations 249
App. 3.3 Skill Ratings and Structural Changes in Skills 250
App. 3.4 Occupational Deskilling by Educational Tier 253
App. 3.5 More Data on Years of Education and Occupation of Prime-Age Workers 255
App. 4.1 More Data on years of Education and Occupation of Prime-age Workers 257
App. 4.2 Using the Biproportional Matrix Technique for Decomposition 260
App. 4.3 Further Decomposition of the Structural Changes 263
App. 5.1 More Data on Median Hourly Wages 264
App. 5.2 Estimating Hourly Wage Data 266
App. 5.3 The Impact of Other Cognitive Skills on Wages 269
App. 5.4 Wage Regressions at Different Points in Time 271
App. 6.1 More Charts on Wage Distributions 272
App. 7.1 The Impact of Immigration on the Employment of Native-Born Workers 274
App. 8.1 Determinants of Hiring Criteria and of Labor Force Composition 276
Bibliography 280
Name Index 292
Subject Index 295
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