May 1999, Vol. 122, No. 5
Labor month in review
New data on young workers
Lost workday injuries
The May ReviewTo a jobseekerwhether for ones first gig, for advancement within an established career, or for reemployment after ones career is interruptednothing is more important than occupational information. What is the nature of the work? What are working conditions like? What qualifications and training do I need? Whats the outlook for employment in the field? How do earnings in the job stack up?
For half a century now, the Occupational Outlook Handbook has helped answer these questions. Harold Goldstein takes us back even further to the research program started with a modest appropriation in 1940 for "carrying on an occupational outlook service." As the end of the Second World War approached, the Veterans Administration (VA) realized that returning veterans would need solid information on employment opportunities. Occupational analysts at BLS responded with a great variety of brief reports on specific jobsa collection of which was literally bound together with shoelaces as VA Manual M7-1, Occupational Outlook Information. M7-1 was used in VA centers throughout the United States and at hundreds of bases overseas to counsel millions of veterans.
In 1949, an updated and expanded version of the manual was made available for public sale under the title still used today: Occupational Outlook Handbook. Starting there, Michael J. Pilot guides us through the 23 editions of OOH that have appeared to date. Although at first glance the content has remained similar, the Handbook has incorporated improved projection methods, new sources of employment data, and changing philosophical and social attitudes. Through all that, OOH is still a nationally recognized source of career information.
Throughout its history, the Occupational Outlook Handbook has been undergirded by the Bureaus employment projections. Neal H. Rosenthal helps us analyze the evolution of the accuracy of those projections. Using data from five sets of projections prepared from 1960 to 1984, he finds that through several significant changes in procedure, the estimates have captured most of the general trends in occupational employment. The general accuracy in capturing trends is as reliable today as it was in the past.
Also included in this issue are a detailed account of the creation of a new Standard Occupational Classification system and an international report on changing work attitudes in Israel.
New data on young workersFrom 1994 to 1997, nearly one of every four 14-year-olds held an "employee" jobdefined as an ongoing relationship with a particular employer, according to data from a new panel of the National Longitudinal Survey. An additional one-third worked in "freelance" jobs such as babysitting or yard work. In general, more than half (57 percent) of all 14-year-olds participated in some type of work activity. Nearly two of every five 15-year-olds held an "employee" job and an additional quarter worked in "free-lance" jobs. All in all, almost two-thirds of 15-year-olds participated in some type of work activity.
Although male youths were more likely than female youths to work at an employee job at age 14, both sexes worked the same number of weeks (25 weeks). Young men age 15 were more likely to have an employee job than were young women of that age, and worked slightly more weeks (27 versus 24 weeks).
Young males earned an average of $5.73 (in January 1997 dollars) at employee jobs held while they were age 14; young women earned an average of $5.20. Young men earned an average of $5.82 (in January 1997 dollars) at employee jobs held while they were 15; young women earned an average of $5.58. Additional information is available from news release USDL 99110, "Employment Experience and Other Characteristics of Youths: Results from a New Longitudinal Survey."
Lost workday injuriesIn 1997, the median number of days away from work for an occupational injury or illness requiring recuperation away from work beyond the day of the incident was 5 days. This measure of severity of workplace injuries and illness designates the point at which half of the cases involved more days and half involved fewer days.
Median days away from work were highest for carpal tunnel syndrome (25 days), fractures (21 days), and amputations (18 days) among the major types of disabling injuries and illnesses. Among the events and exposures leading to injury, repetitive motion, such as grasping tools, scanning groceries, and typing, resulted in the longest absences from work, with a median of 17 days.
Truck drivers had the highest median days away from work (9 days), followed by carpenters, plumbers, and pipe fitters; public transportation attendants; and butchers and meat cutters (each with 8 days). Workers injured in mining had the highest median days away from work among the major industry divisions (18 days). Additional information is available from news release USDL 99-102, "Lost-worktime Injuries and Illnesses: Characteristics and Resulting Time Away From Work, 1997."
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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