Myths and realities structural change in u s labor markets and the great recession
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Myths and Realities: Structural Change in U.S. Labor Markets and the Great Recession. Peter B. Doeringer Department of Economics, Boston University IILS Round Table on The Global Job Crisis: Emerging Perspectives International Labour Office, Geneva, 22 February 2013

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Myths and realities structural change in u s labor markets and the great recession

Myths and Realities: Structural Change in U.S. Labor Markets and the Great Recession

Peter B. Doeringer

Department of Economics, Boston University

IILS Round Table on The Global Job Crisis: Emerging Perspectives

International Labour Office, Geneva, 22 February 2013

I am grateful to the Economic Policy Institute for making a number of graphics available from The State of Working America (12th Edition)


Symptoms of the Great Recession

Myth or Reality During the Great Recession

Public Policies and Priorities





Long term unemployment 1948 2011
Long-term Unemployment, millions) 1948–2011

38.1% January 2013


Myth or reality during the great recession
Myth or Reality During the Great Recession? millions)

  • A university degree is no longer worth the investment

  • Women fared better than men in the recession

  • Good jobs have disappeared

  • Private welfare benefits are surviving; social safety nets have failed


A university degree i s no longer worth the investment
A University Degree millions)Is No Longer Worth the Investment




Entry level real wages of college graduates falling since 2002
Entry-level Real Wages of Recession College Graduates Falling Since 2002


Entry level real wages of high s chool graduates falling since 2001
Entry-level Real Wages of Recession High School GraduatesFalling Since 2001


College wage premiums are still rising
College Wage Premiums Recession Are Still Rising




Job loss by gender in the great recession dec 2007 dec 2011
Job Loss by Gender In the Great Recession Recession (Dec. 2007–Dec. 2011)


Cumulative change in real hourly wages of women by wage percentile 1979 2011
Cumulative Change Recession In Real Hourly Wages of Women, by Wage Percentile, 1979–2011


Cumulative change in real hourly wages of men by wage percentile 1979 2011
Cumulative Change in Real Hourly Wages of Recession Men, by Wage Percentile, 1979–2011


The gender wage gap continues to narrow
The Gender Wage Gap Recession Continues to Narrow

  • 1939 = 62%

  • 1959 = 45%

  • 1979 = 38%

  • 1999 = 24%

  • 2007 = 18%

  • 2011 = 16%



Long duration jobs 1983 2008 years with current employer wage salary workers age 20
Long-Duration Jobs (1983, 2008) Recession Years with Current Employer (wage & salary workers age 20+)

19832008

20+ years 9% 11%

10+ years 27% 28%

2 Years or Less 37% 34%

10+ Years, age 45-49

-- Men 58% 44%

-- Women 33% 37%

10+ Years, age 55-59

-- Men 66% 55%

-- Women 51% 50%


Good jobs as a share of total employment 1979 2010 schmitt and jones cepr 2012
“Good” Jobs As a Share of Total Employment, 1979–2010 Recession [Schmitt and Jones, CEPR, 2012 ]


% Change in Employment Shares Recession by Type of Job Duties, 1981-2011[Jaimovich and Siu, The Trend is the Cycle, NBER Working Paper 18334, May 2012]


Private welfare benefits a re surviving social safety nets have failed
Private Welfare Benefits Recession Are Surviving; Social Safety Nets Have Failed


Share of recent college graduates with employer health pension coverage 1979 2010
Share of Recent Recession College Graduates With Employer Health/Pension Coverage, 1979–2010


Share of recent high school graduates with employer health pension coverage 1979 2010
Share of Recent Recession High School Graduates with Employer Health & Pension Coverage, 1979–2010



Per capita social security expenditures and the elderly p overty r ate 1959 2011
Per Capita Social Security Expenditures and the Elderly Benefits, 1989-2011Poverty Rate, 1959–2011


Public policy
Public Policy? Benefits, 1989-2011

  • Priorities: More jobs, less chronic unemployment, better jobs, less labor market polarization

  • Active Policies

    • Better job matching

    • Education and training

    • Regional economic development and labor mobility

    • Work-based transitions: School-to-work, Re-employment

  • Labor Market Regulation

    • Minimum wages and employment standards

    • Unions and collective bargaining policy

    • Anti-discrimination policies

    • Immigration policy

    • Public sector employment and HR reforms

  • Full Employment


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