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TheWorking Life

The Labor Market for Workers in Low-Skilled Jobs

Nan L. Maxwell

Publication Year: 2007

Maxwell presents the results of her groundbreaking survey of 405 employers, which queried them about jobs requiring no more than a high school education and no more than one year of work experience. These data allow her to establish the link between skills and low-skilled jobs and to reveal the current state of the labor market facing low-skilled workers. The data also highlights the knowledge and skills that employers require in low-skilled jobs and the abilities that individuals who apply for those jobs bring to the table.

Published by: W.E. Upjohn Institute

Title Page, copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Virtually everyone starts his or her work life in a low-skilled job and, in an ideal world, everyone advances in career-ladder fashion as that person learns new skills. Not all beginnings are the same, however. Some individuals cannot find an entry into the labor market, while others move seamlessly into the labor...

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1 Low-Skilled Jobs

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pp. 1-24

Individuals that work full time spend about 20 percent of their year—and nearly one-third of their waking hours—at work. Individuals have some control over this time, in that they can invest in skills that help shape their work life. Hate working in an office? Build construction...

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2 Local Labor Markets and Low-Skilled Jobs

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pp. 25-48

Characterizing labor markets for workers in low-skilled jobs is, on the one hand, easy. If employers view jobs as not requiring skills to perform, workers in such positions become a homogeneous commodity, and a competitive market for their services develops. Market forces (e.g., business and product cycles...

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3 How Skills Matter

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pp. 49-72

Our conventional model suggests that skills do not matter in the market for workers in low-skilled jobs. Yet the data, case studies, and research in Chapter 1 suggest otherwise: they show the need for skills even in the lowest of the low-skilled jobs (Shipler 2004). Casual observations merely confirm the data. Working...

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4 Recruiting and Screening Workers in Low-Skilled Positions

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pp. 73-90

Firms must attract applicants before they can hire for a low-skilled position, and analysis presented thus far suggests that firms will want to attract workers with appropriate skills. Attracting applicants with the skills needed for the job requires that firms design recruiting and screening methods to ferret out the...

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5 Skills, Promotions, and Low-Skilled Positions

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pp. 91-110

Analysis in the preceding chapters suggests that firms recruit, screen, require, and pay for specific skills when they hire workers in low-skilled positions. These findings raise the possibility that firms might use promotional opportunities to retain workers in low-skilled jobs with needed skills, in contrast to...

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6 Labor Markets for Workers in Low-Skilled Positions

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pp. 111-138

We framed this study in a conventional model of the labor market for workers in low-skilled positions. In this model, competitive forces determine employment and wages for homogeneous workers, which means workers in low-skilled positions have little job security or chance for advancement and low, undifferentiated...

Appendix A Background Tables and Variable Construction

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pp. 139-172


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pp. 173-184

About the Author

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pp. 185-186


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pp. 187-192

About the Institute

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pp. 193

E-ISBN-13: 9780880994491
E-ISBN-10: 0880994495
Print-ISBN-13: 9780880992978
Print-ISBN-10: 0880992972

Page Count: 273
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: First