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America's Eroding Job Quality

Taken from September 2012 Vol 40, Intelligent Investor

The U.S workforce is significantly older and better educated than in it was during the 1970s. Because older, more-educated workers tend to earn more and receive better benefits than younger, less-educated workers, we would expect to see workers with a higher share of “good jobs.” But this has not been the case.

In this discussion, the bar for what constitutes a “good job” has been set quite low. A “good job” has been defined as one that pays at least $37,000 annually and has both employer-sponsored healthcare and retirement benefits.
According to the data, the share of the labor force that had a good job declined from 27.4% in 1979 to 24.6% in 2010. But how much of this decline has been due to the economic crisis? 
Prior to 2007, the share of the labor force that had a good job was still only 25.0%. In conclusion, since 1979, the U.S. economy has lost between 28% and 38% of its capacity to generate good jobs. 
The most common response from critics of this trend is that workers’ skills and education have not kept pace with technological changes demanded by the workplace; the so-called structural unemployment argument. However, if this were true, we would see a higher share of workers holding advanced degrees with good jobs today.
Instead, at every age level, workers with a four-year college degree or more are less likely to have...

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