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June 1996, Vol. 119, No. 6
Randy E. Ilg
Although considerable job growth has occurred over the past few years, many labor market analysts have raised concerns about the quality of the employment gains. Data from the Current Population Survey clearly indicate that the increase in employment, though somewhat concentrated in relatively low-wage industries, has taken place in both relatively higher-paying and lower-paying occupations. And, while downsizing and restructuring have led to the displacement of many managers and professionals, considerable growth still has occurred within these occupations. In fact, three-quarters of the net job growth between 1989 and 1995 occurred in the managerial and professional specialty occupations (36 and 39 percent, respectively).
This article examines the quality of employment growth, using earnings as the measure of job quality, for a group of 90 major industries and occupations. Unlike previous studies that have focused on changes in employment between two points in time, this analysis adds the dimension of a monthly time series. The findings reinforce the conclusion drawn from previous BLS research that employment growth has been greater for occupation-industry cells at the top and bottom of the earnings distribution than for those in the middle.1
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1 See Thomas Nardone, "Nature of employment growth examined by BLS," Employment in Perspective: Earnings and Job Growth, USDL 94-410, Report 877 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 1994); and Neal H. Rosenthal, "The nature of occupational employment growth: 1983-93," Monthly Labor Review, June 1995, pp. 45-54.
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