April 1999, Vol. 122, No. 4
Labor month in review
Extended mass layoffs in 1998
Entertainment spending declined in 1997
Occupational injuries and illnesses, 1997
The April ReviewOnce again, Professor Paul D. Staudohar enriches our pages with an account of the trials and tribulations of labor relations in the rare atmosphere of professional sports. In an earlier contribution (March 1997 Review), covering the baseball strike of 199495, he found that, "The biggest strike ever in professional sports resulted in lost money for the owners and players and in disillusionment for the fans." In this issue, Staudohar examines the recent basketball lockout. He concludes that this dispute lost the league about $1 billion and the players roughly half that amount in foregone salaries.
Marilyn E. Manser and Garnett Picot have collaborated across several boundaries to explore the nature and extent of self-employment in the United States and Canada. Their first challenge was making sure that the definitional issues in official statistics on self-employment didnt cloud the issue of extentthe definition used by Statistics Canada is more inclusive than that of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the end they find, among other things, that when it comes to job creation, "self employment was more important in Canada than the United States during the 1990s, but not during the 1980s," and that in terms of the nature of self employment, "The share of self-employment jobs held by more highly educated workers rose during the 1990s in both countries."
In a compact article on consumer price trends in 1998, Todd Wilson finds the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose only slightly for the second straight year. The increase of 1.6 percent was the smallest since a 1.1-percent rise in 1986.
Robert Drago and his colleagues examine a range of measures of worktime for elementary school teachers in four specific school districts in the United States. While their substantive conclusion, that elementary school teachers put in more time than the length of the formal school day would suggest is interesting, their wide variety of time use indicators becomes a good example of how measurement and definition issues can affect research.
Extended mass layoffs in 1998U.S. employers conducted 5,759 extended mass layoffs during 1998, resulting in 1,163,805 worker separations. These events and separations were slightly higher than comparative figures for 1997 (5,645 and 1,112,513, respectively). Extended mass layoffs last at least 31 days and involve at least 50 workers from a single establishment.
Seasonal work accounted for 50 percent of the separations and 45 percent of layoff events in the fourth quarter of 1998. Over the year, layoff events resulting from import competition and slack work and separations caused by reorganizations reported the largest numerical increases. Layoff events caused by seasonal work and separations caused by financial difficulty experienced the largest numerical declines.
For more information, see "Extended Mass Layoffs in the Fourth Quarter of 1998," USDL news release 9995.
Entertainment spending declined in 1997Consumer expenditures on entertainment fell 1.1 percent in 1997, following an increase of 13.8 percent in 1996. Entertainment expenditures averaged $1,813 annually per consumer unit, about the same as for health care, but less than that for basic necessities such as housing, transportation, and food.
An 8.4-percent decrease in spending on other entertainment supplies, equipment, and services contributed to the overall decrease in entertainment spending. The subcomponent includes items such as unmotored and motorized recreational vehicles, where relatively small changes in the number of consumers buying such expensive, infrequently purchased items have a large effect on the overall expenditure average.
Expenditures rose 2.9 percent for television, radio, and sound equipment, and 2.6 percent for entertainment fees and admissions. However, these increases were smaller than those reported in 1996. Spending on pets, toys, and playground equipment decreased 2.4 percent, after increasing 4.0 percent the year before.
For more information, see "Consumer Expenditures in 1997," BLS Report 927.
Occupational injuries and illnesses, 1997In 1997, private industries reported approximately 6.1 million nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses. Manufacturing accounted for almost one-third of the cases (1.9 million), and wholesale and retail trade and services each accounted for about one-quarter.
Manufacturings incidence ratethe number of injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workersalso led all industries at 10.3. Although wholesale and retail trade and services accounted for a large number of injuries and illnesses, their incidence rates, at 6.7 and 5.6, respectively, were lower than many industries.
Wide variations exist in the frequency of nonfatal workplace incidents, even for industries producing similar goods or services. Within manufacturing, for example, the total case rate for injuries and illnesses in the electronic components and accessories industry group (Standard Industrial Classification 367) was 5.0 per 100 full-time workers. Among the detailed industries within this category, total case rates ranged from 3.1 in semiconductor and related devices (SIC 3674) to 14.4 in electron tubes (SIC 3671).
For more information, see "Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, 1997," Summary 993.
Communications regarding the Monthly Labor Review may be sent to the Editor-in-Chief at 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Room 2850, Washington, DC, 20212, or faxed to (202) 6065899.
News releases discussed above are available at: http://www.bls.gov/bls/newsrels.htm
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