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Publication Date



Upjohn Institute Working Paper No. 95-39

**Published Version**

In Labour (Special issue 1995): S93-S124




During the 1980's employment grew rapidly in the United States, prompting many analysts to label the U.S. economy the great American job machine. But while aggregate employment increased rapidly during the 1980's, many did not benefit from the expansion. Among less educated prime-age males, unemployment rates rose and labor force participation rates declined sharply. Moreover, although job growth was high, many argued that the quality of American jobs as measured by wages, benefits, and job security deteriorated. The decline of jobs in the high-paying manufacturing sector and the growth of jobs in the low-paying services sector, the growth in part-time and temporary employment, and the general decline in real wages among less-educated, less-skilled workers have been presented as evidence of an erosion in job quality. The issue of job growth and job quality in the American economy has sparked extensive debate among policymakers and academics over the last decade. The aim of this paper is to critically examine the evidence on job growth and on wages and other indicators of job quality in the U.S. economy during the 1980's and 1990's. To place the American experience in perspective, selected comparisons are made to the experiences in other industrialized countries.

Issue Date

Revised August 1995


Prepared for the 10th World Congress of the International Industrial Relations Association, Washington D.C., May 31-June 4, 1995

Subject Areas

LABOR MARKET ISSUES; Job security and unemployment dynamics


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Houseman, Susan N. 1995. "Job Growth and the Quality of Jobs in the U.S. Economy." Upjohn Institute Working Paper No. 95-39. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. https://doi.org/10.17848/wp95-39