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Contents Foreword by Richard C. Leone, President, The Century Foundation ix Acknowledgments xiii List ofAbbreviations xv Chapter 1. The Potential and Limitations of Career Ladders 1 Chapter 2. Health Care 24 Chapter 3. Child Care 58 Chapter 4. Education 91 Chapter 5. Biotechnology 114 Chapter 6. Manufacturing 150 Chapter 7. An Agenda for Moving Up in the New Economy 182 Notes 205 Bibliography 224 Index 243 Foreword By global standards, Americans of all classes are rich. At the same time, inequality in the United States is very high, as measured by either income or wealth. At the top of the income scale, the best off among us, of course, are fabulously rich, but most of us have lagged behind because of several decades of relatively slow growth in wages. In fact, since 1973, except for a relatively short period during the 1ggos, inequality has increased steadily. There have been many explanations for this pattern. Economists, statisticians , labor leaders, businessmen, politicians, and pundits argue continually about the relative importance of a variety of factors, including automation, the introduction ofcomputers, changes in trade policy, changes in labor law, international competition, outsourcing, the new information economy, the decline of manufacturing relative to its share of overall employment, and lagging productivity. Indeed, the most thoughtful analysts have pieced together a likely tale involving a number of these factors. From the perspective of an individual worker, however, increased insecurity coupled \vith a lack of upward movement has meant several things at once: a grO\ving amount of personal debt, a sense of increasing powerlessness, and confusion about how to choose a successful career path. These issues are especially acute for the majority ofAmericans who do not graduate from college. For this large group of Americans, the most important pieces of their lives are family and work. Like many other features of American societyindeed world society-these central relationships have been changing rapidly. Not so long ago, most jobs involved heavy labor on the farm or in a factory. Women ran the household and, on farms, helped with the crops. Today, at least in modern nations such as the United States, that pattern amounts to ancient history. Few work on the farm at all, and women are a X FOREWORD normal part ofthe workforce. Along with farmwork, manufacturing employs a sharply lower percentage of all workers. The service sector has come to dominate the economy. As it has done so, education has become more and more important for job seekers, and any differences between the physical capacities of men and women have become less and less relevant to the demands of the workplace. Increasingly, families rely on the wages and salaries of wives as well as husbands to make ends meet, and distinctions between the roles of women and men are diminishing. Now the norm is the two-earner family, with both earners working in white-collar jobs. Business organizations have changed at least as much as the workforce. Big American employers of the past were relatively secure in their economic dominance, and their security translated into job security for their employees. In 1950, Bethlehem Steel, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Pan American Airlines, and General Motors all enjoyed protected oligopoly status with big markets and secure sales. Since then, domestic and international competition have increased the economic pressure on almost all firms. As firms have lost market share and profits, their employees have lost job security, fringe benefits, and even basic wages. These change have been particularly hard on the relatively poorly educated . As competition has carved leaner and meaner corporations, those without the skills to jump to alternative employment have often found themselves tossed onto the scrapheap of obsolete labor. No longer can unskilled men follow in their father's footsteps and find good factory jobs. And on the other side, no longer do employers make the same effort to build a loyal workforce. Jobs and workers stay together only as long as both parties find the arrangement convenient, \Vith a diminished sense of long-term responsibility. In the context of these changes in work and the workplace, Joan Fitzgerald, associate professor and director of the Law, Policy, and Society Program at Northeastern University, explores the possibility of encouraging employers to play a larger role in the process ofimproving the skills and the job prospects of their employees. Potentially, both sides could benefit, with employees looking fmward to upward mobility within the same organization , and employers looking forward to increased loyalty and effort among...


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