Title Page

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Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vii

Contributors

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pp. ix-xii

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Acknowledgments

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p. xiii

The unique research presented in this volume would not have been possible without the vision, guidance, and financial support of the Russell Sage and Rockefeller Foundations. The authors of the papers in this volume, and the academic and policy community in general, are deeply indebted to Katherine McFate, Eric Wanner, and Nancy Weinberg for their leadership and for their concern about ...

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CHAPTER 1: Low-Wage America: An Overview

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pp. 1-29

This volume describes changes in the workplace for Americans who do not earn enough to support themselves and their families. The number of such workers is substantial. In 2001 about 27.5 million Americans, 23.9 percent of the labor force, earned less than $8.70 an hour (Mishel, Bernstein, and Boushey 2003, table 2.9). Working full-time for the entire year at this wage produces annual ...

PART I: Services: Where the Jobs Are

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CHAPTER 2: The Coffee Pot Wars: Unions and Firm Restructuring in the Hotel Industry

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pp. 33-76

After considerable debate about recent labor market trends in the United States, something of a consensus may finally be emerging on the major forces at work. Debate will undoubtedly continue over the relative weight of different factors, but it is clear that changes in markets, technologies, and institutions have all contributed to the sharp rise in inequality and the stagnation of real ...

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CHAPTER 3: The Effects of Work Restructuring on Low-Wage, Low-Skilled Workers in U.S. Hospitals

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pp. 77-117

Although commonly thought of as an employer of highly educated and technically skilled medical staff, the U.S. hospital industry also provides large numbers of low-skill, low-wage jobs. Food service, housekeeping, and nursing assistant jobs make up the largely invisible backbone of any U.S. hospital. These jobs have traditionally provided employment with benefits to some of the most ...

PART II: Technology: Fewer Better Jobs?

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CHAPTER 4: Computer-Based Technological Change and Skill Demands: Reconciling the Perspectives of Economists and Sociologists

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pp. 121-154

Two recent trends have rekindled interest in questions about the impact of technological change on the skills that workers use at their jobs and the wages these skills command. The first is the increase in education-related earnings inequality. Between 1980 and 1998 the college–high school wage differential rose from 48 to 75 percentage points, a 56 percent gain. The second trend is the ...

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CHAPTER 5: “New Technology” and Its Impact on the Jobs of High School Educated Workers: A Look Deep Inside Three Manufacturing Industries

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pp. 155-194

The deterioration of the economic position of less-educated men is part of a well-documented increase in income inequality in the U.S. labor market between the late 1970s and early 1990s. During this time period the income gap between high school educated and college-educated men rose substantially (see Autor, Levy, and Murnane, this volume). Many analysts have advanced the idea of ...

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CHAPTER 6: Plastic Manufacturers: How Competitive Strategies and Technology Decisions Transformed Jobs and Increased Pay Disparity Among Rank-and-File Workers

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pp. 195-226

It is well known that earnings disparity increased among U.S. workers during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Less well known is that disparity grew even among workers who were equal in their years of schooling and employed within narrowly defined industrial sectors (see, for example, Levy and Murnane 1992; Murphy and Welch 1993; Federal Reserve Bank of New York 1995; ...

PART III: Career Ladders: The Past or the Future?

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CHAPTER 7: Too Many Cooks? Tracking Internal Labor Market Dynamics in Food Service with Case Studies and Quantitative Data

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pp. 229-269

Core firms in the U.S. economy have traditionally had strong internal labor markets that provided opportunities for skill development and advancement. Through training or prospects for long-term employment that allowed for on-the-job training and returns to investment in education, workers starting out with low skill levels had opportunities to be hired for “good” jobs. Firms ...

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CHAPTER 8: How and When Does Management Matter? Job Quality and Career Opportunities for Call Center Workers

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pp. 270-313

The dramatic growth of call centers in the last two decades is an important labor market phenomenon for low-wage service workers. Whereas historically service provision was personalized and service labor markets were local, advances in information technologies and new business strategies have made possible the emergence of call centers in which service and sales transactions are ...

PART IV: Temps: Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?

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CHAPTER 9: A Temporary Route to Advancement? The Career Opportunities for Low-Skilled Workers in Temporary Employment

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pp. 317-367

The rapid growth of the temporary staffing industry in the 1990s has posed a paradox to understanding the labor market for low-skilled workers. During this period, with the U.S. economy operating for several years at greater than what had been considered the rate of “full employment,” employee bargaining power and job options increased. Even the lowest-skilled indviduals were able to ...

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CHAPTER 10: The Effects of Temporary Services and Contracting Out on Low-Skilled Workers: Evidence from Auto Suppliers, Hospitals, and Public Schools

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pp. 368-403

Temporary help employment grew dramatically over the last decade, accounting for 10 percent of net employment growth in the United States during the 1990s. Although government statistics on contracting out are not maintained, evidence from case studies and business surveys suggests that there has been dramatic growth ...

PART V: Globalization: Always a Job Killer?

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CHAPTER 11: The Future of Jobs in the Hosiery Industry

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pp. 407-445

This case study examines the industry of circular knitting for legwear. The industry is generally classified as hosiery manufacturing but can include products ranging from expensive, FDA-regulated medical compression garments to six-packs of socks for children sold at wholesale prices of less than twenty-five cents per garment. With manufacturing generally located in the southeastern ...

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CHAPTER 12: When Management Strategies Change: Employee Well-Being at an Auto Supplier

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pp. 446-478

As a result of increased international competition, over the last decade or two U.S. manufacturing firms have made major changes in both their product strategies and their human resource policies. Many firms have chosen one of two strategies: the “high road” of innovative products and skilled, highly paid workers, or the “low road” of commodity products and low-paid, unskilled workers ...

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CHAPTER 13: Managerial Discretion, Business Strategy, and the Quality of Jobs: Evidence from Medium-Sized Manufacturing Establishments in Central New York

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pp. 479-525

This chapter draws on ten case studies of manufacturing establishments in central New York to examine two key questions. First, are managers in medium-sized establishments that are located in an economically depressed geographic region and that employ workers with limited formal education able to exercise discretion with respect to the business strategy they adopt? And second, do ...

Index

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pp. 527-535