September, 2000, Vol. 123, No. 9
Labor month in review
Fatal work injuries
The September Review
Earlier this month, the annual meeting of the National Association of Business Economists devoted an hour-long session to discussing where workers will come from to maintain high rates of economic growth. For individual firms, the answer might be persons who are already employed. According to the lead article by Joseph R. Meisenheimer and Randy E. Ilg, there were almost as many jobseekers among the employed as among the unemployed in February 1999. The most likely employees to be looking for a new job were younger, more highly educated workers, especially if their current jobs did not offer health insurance or retirement benefits.
Another potential source of labor supply is the teenaged cohort. The population aged 16 to 19 has been growing at about a 300,000 per year clip after dropping to a low of about 13.8 million in 1992. Examining the contributions of employed teens to family income and spending, David S. Johnson and Mark Lino conclude that many teens do not seem to be working to contribute to family basic necessities, but tend to spend money instead on their own clothes, food away from home, and entertainment.
Although the gains are not as spectacular as they were a few decades ago, the proportion of the labor force made up of women continues to rise. In 1999, about 46.5 percent of the labor force was female. Documenting the extent to which women have been employed in low-wage jobs, Marlene Kim finds that women hold the majority of low-wage jobs and are more likely to do so if they are young, single, and have less than a high school education.
The final article is a report on a conference of experts on price measurement. They outline proposals to research not just the Bureau’s price index programs, but the more general issues of understanding prices and the cost of living.
From January 1997 through December 1999, 3.3 million workers were displaced from jobs they had held for at least 3 years. The number of displaced workers was about the same as the 3.6 million recorded 2 years earlier in a survey that measured job losses from January 1995 through December 1997.
As was the case in prior surveys, manufacturing continued to make up the largest share of displaced workers. Over the 1997–99 period, 1.0 million factory workers lost jobs, accounting for about 1 in every 3 displacements, a ratio about twice that of employment in manufacturing to total employment.
Substantial numbers of workers were displaced from service-producing industries as well. Displacements in wholesale and retail trade (616,000) and in finance, insurance, and real estate (245,000) accounted for 19 and 8 percent, respectively, of all workers displaced over the 1997–99 period. For both sectors, these percentages exceeded their respective shares of total employment, indicating that workers in these industries had an above-average risk of being displaced.
Displaced workers are persons 20 years of age and older who lost or left jobs because their plant or company closed or moved, there was insufficient work for them to do, or their position or shift was abolished. Get more information from "Worker Displacement in the Late 1990s," news release USDL 00–223.
Fatal work injuries
The number of fatal work injuries that occurred during 1999 was 6,023, nearly the same as the total of the previous year, despite an increase in employment. Decreases in job-related deaths from homicides and electrocutions in 1999 were offset by increases in deaths from workers struck by falling objects or caught in running machinery. Construction reported the largest number of fatal work injuries for any industry and accounted for one-fifth of the fatality total. Get more information from "National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 1999," news release USDL 00–236.
The median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer (referred to as employee tenure) was 3.5 years in February 2000, about the same as in February 1998. Although the median year of tenure has been consistently higher for men than for women, the gap has narrowed since the early 1990s.
For men, median tenure in February 2000 was unchanged from February 1998. It was, however, slightly lower than that in January 1983, despite an upward shift in the age of the male workforce. For women, the median years of tenure were slightly higher in February 2000 than in January 1983, and there also was an upward shift in the age of the female workforce from 1983 to 2000. Get more information from "Employee Tenure in 2000," news release USDL 00–245.
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) 6917890.
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