Inequality and the Growth of Bad Jobs

The share of jobs that are low-skill declined by 15% from 1960 to 2005, yet low-wage jobs have made up an increasing share of total job growth over that period. Scholar Matt Vidal discusses how the manufacturing-based, nationally bound economy of the postwar years allowed employers to pay decent wages for low-skill jobs, but in today’s postindustrial, internationalized economy, wage-based competition has returned with a vengeance.

Recommended Reading from Matt Vidal

Bernhardt, Annette. The Role of Labor Market Regulation in Rebuilding Economic Opportunity in the United States, Work and Occupations (2012) 39,4: 354-375. Presents evidence in support of a three-pronged approach to labor market regulation to reduce inequality and labor market insecurity.

Domhoff, G. William. Wealth, Income, and Power. Provides extensive statistics on the distribution of wealth and income in the US.

Kalleberg, Arne. Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: The Rise of Polarized and Precarious Employment Systems in the United States, 1970s to 2000s (Russell Sage Foundation, 2012). An ambitious synthesis of research on job quality in the US.

Herzenberg, Stephen A, John A Alic, and Howard Wial. New Rules for a New Economy: Employment and Opportunity in Postindustrial America (ILR Press, 1998). Discusses possibilities for upgrading job quality in the service economy.

Vidal, Matt. Low-Autonomy Work and Bad Jobs in Postfordist Capitalism, Human Relations (2013), 66,4: 587-612. Presents evidence on the extent of low-autonomy work in the US and a framework for analyzing trends in job quality.

Wright, Erik Olin and Rachel E. Dwyer. Patterns of Job Expansions in the USA: A Comparison of the 1960s and 1990s, Socio-Economic Review (2003), 1:289-325. One of the first studies to demonstrate job polarization in the US.