November 1998, Vol. 121, No. 11
Labor month in review
Pricing pollution control
New data on jobs and pay in large counties
The November ReviewThe two leading articles for this month highlight the results of a new round of the Current Population Survey supplement on alternative work arrangements and contingent workers. Sharon R. Cohany examines the new data on alternative work arrangements independent contracting, on-call work, working through a temporary help agency, and working for a contract firm. One interesting finding is that there had been virtually no change between February 1995 and February 1997 in the proportion of total employment accounted for by any of these arrangements. Similarly, the characteristics of workers in these arrangements were little changed, thus confirming the earlier surveys finding that workers differed significantly between these arrangements as well as within them.
In contrast, Steven Hipples report on the incidence of contingent work and the characteristics of contingent workers finds that the incidence of contin gent work jobs that are structured to be short term or temporary declined significantly between 1995 and 1997. On the other hand, the characteristics of contingent workers remained broadly the same in the two years: Contingent work continues to be more common among women, young persons, students, part-time workers, and workers in the construction and services industries.
Hugh Conway and Jens Svenson throw some light on the decline in occupational injury and illness rates after the 199091 recession. Understanding this decline is especially important because of the expectation that economic expansion would be expected to bring a pattern of increased injuries and illnesses.
The issue is rounded out by an International Report from Thesia I. Garner and Katherine Terrell on the on-going transition of the Czech and Slovak Republics from central-command to market-based economies.
Pricing pollution controlAs part of an effort to explain more precisely how the Consumer Price Index (CPI) fits into a cost-of-living framework confined to market goods and services, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reviewed its treatment of mandated anti-pollution measures. After careful review, the BLS has decided that it will no longer treat modifications to goods and services that are made solely to meet air quality standards as quality improvements in the CPI. Price increases associated with such modifications will be treated as increases in the index. This decision should not be construed as a judgment that the reduction of air pollution from automobiles is without value. Effective with the data for January 1999, however, the CPI will no longer make quality adjustments for changes in vehicle or motor fuel characteristics arising from air-pollution mandates.
Historically within the CPI, quality adjustments for anti-pollution measures have been made to the new car (or new vehicle) component since 1969 (automobile model year 1970), with their estimated dollar effect published annually. Since 1988, these data have also been utilized to make quality adjustments in the used car component. In addition, beginning in late 1994, quality adjustments were made for the introduction of reformulated gasoline, which was required in selected areas for compliance with the Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990.
The new policy will have its most significant effect on the motor fuel and new and used motor vehicle components of the index. In the vehicle indexes, the policy will apply to all vehicle models introduced on or after January 1, 1999. Since most of the 1999 model-year vehicles will be introduced before that date, the old practice will be used for the 1998-to-1999 model-year changeover in most cases.
For more information see, "The Treatment of Mandated Pollution Control Measures in the CPI" in CPI Detailed Report, September 1998.
New data on jobs and pay in large countiesOf the 290 counties with total employment levels of 75,000 or more, Clark County, Nevada, had the largest percent increase in employment (9.1 percent) during 1996. Clark County is part of the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Overall, 132 of the large counties had rates of employment growth in 1996 above the national average of 2.1 percent. Placer County, California, had the second largest percent increase (8.6 percent).
In 1996, average annual pay was higher than the national average of $28,945 in 115 of the Nations largest counties. New York County, New York, had the highest level of average annual pay at $55,312, a figure nearly twice as high as the national average and more than 20 percent higher than the second place county (Fairfield County, Connecticut). Boulder County, Colorado, led growth in average annual pay with an increase of 8.9 percent. New York County was second at 7.7 percent.
Among the large counties, 27 actually experienced employment declines. In the District of Columbia, employment declined 2.7 percent, the largest reported. Average annual pay declined in just three of the large counties during 1996.
For more information, see news release USDL 98-443, Employment and Average Annual Pay for Large Counties, 1996.
Communications regarding the Monthly Labor Review may be sent to the Editor-in-Chief at 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Room 2850, Washington, DC, 20212, or faxed to (202) 6065899.
News releases discussed above are available at: http://www.bls.gov/bls/newsrels.htm
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