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February 1990, Vol. 113, No. 2
Compensation trends into the 21st century
George L. Stelluto and Deborah P. Klein
To help mark the Monthly Labor Review's 75th year, the editors asked both data users and data producers to speculate about programs and data needs in 2015, when the Review will mark its centennial. This article and the article beginning on page 46, deal with the Bureau's compensation programs.
Are recent changes in the ways employers compensate their employees prologue to a new compensation system in the 21st century? In the 1980's, we have seen the waxing and waning of two-tier wage and benefit systems, the surge of lump-sum payments made to employees in place of wage-rate increases, and the appearance of flexible employee benefit plans. Whether such changes will endure is still being debated.
The debate is well framed within the broader context of U.S. industrial relations in two May 1988 Monthly Labor Review articles. John Dunlop argues that "no fundamental change" occurred in the 1980's, while Audrey Freedman insists, "This change is for good."1 No doubt, employer-employee relations will be a central force in determining the size and makeup of future employee compensation packages, but the shape of these packages also will be influenced by the changing needs of employees and their families.
This article reviews compensation trends and speculates on how compensation packages in the next century might respond to the changing characteristics of the U.S. work force and to the needs of workers and their employers. Will pay for time worked continue to make up the lion's share of total compensation costs? Will the relative importance of individual employee benefits (such as paid leave, insurance, pensions, legally required benefits) remain constant or change? Will flexible or discretionary forms of employee compensation become more prevalent?
This excerpt is from an article published in the February 1990 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 See John T. Dunlap, "have the 1980's changed U.S. industrial relations?" pp. 29-34; and Audrey Freedman, "How the 1980's have changed industrial relations," Monthly Labor Review, May 1988, pp. 35-38.
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