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July 1993, Vol. 116, No. 7
Seasonal employment falls over past three decades
Leo G. Rydzewski, William G. Deming, and Philip L. Rones
Over the course of a year, employment levels undergo sharp fluctuations due to seasonal changes in weather, reduced or expanded production, harvests, major holidays, and the opening and closing of schools. These swings follow a more or less regular pattern each year, the purpose of most labor market analyses, however, is to identify the underlying trends in the data, apart from the normal seasonal movements. For this reason, employment data are seasonally adjusted, a process that smoothes out the normal seasonal shifts that can obscure underlying economic trends.
Because of this focus on seasonally adjusted data, the seasonal nature of employment is sometimes forgotten. Yet, in some months, millions of jobs are filled or vacated in a pattern that is largely repeated each year. These movements are so fundamental to the normal operation of labor markets, and are so large, that any marked change in seasonal employment would represent an important labor market development. In this article, we show that there has in fact been a dramatic decline in seasonal employment over the last several decades.
This decline in the amount of seasonal employment is partly reflected in a trend towards year-round employment. In 1960, 60 percent of those who worked during the year worked at least 50 weeks. By 1990, the proportion of workers employed year round had risen to 69 percent. For many workers, fewer disruptions in employment translates into steadier incomes and greater security, as well as a better potential for advancement.
This excerpt is from an article published in the July 1993 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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