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July 2012, Vol. 135, No. 7
Recent trends in the characteristics of unemployment insurance recipients
Marios Michaelides and Peter R. Mueser
Marios Michaelides is a senior research associate at IMPAQ International, Columbia, MD; Peter R. Mueser is a professor in the Department of Economics and the Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri at Columbia. Email: mmichaelides@ impaqint.com or mueserp@ missouri.edu. This article was based on research conducted by IMPAQ International for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Employment and Training Administration, Office of Policy Development and Research, under contract number DOLJ041A000031. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to DOL, nor does any mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement of same by the U.S. Government.
The composition of the U.S. labor force has changed dramatically over the last half century. The proportion of women in the labor force has now stabilized at a level only modestly below parity with men, while the shares of non-Whites and Hispanics in the labor force have continued to rise. In addition, the average age of the U.S. labor force is higher today than three decades ago, largely as a result of the aging of the baby-boom generation. Besides these demographic changes, there have been important shifts in the industrial and occupational structure of the U.S. economy. The steady decline of manufacturing and the rise of the service sector together have formed a system in which services play a dominant role. Partly because of the decline of manufacturing, the share of blue-collar jobs has fallen over time, and today most workers are employed in white-collar occupations. These changes and their impacts on overall employment and unemployment patterns have been well documented.1
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1 See, for example, Steven Hipple, "Worker displacement in an expanding economy," Monthly Labor Review, December 1997, pp. 26–39, http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1997/12/art3full.pdf; Chinhui Juhn, Kevin M. Murphy, and Robert H. Topel, "Current Unemployment Historically Contemplated," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (Washington, DC, Brookings Institution, 2002, pp. 79–116; Erica Groshen and Simon Potter, "Has Structural Change Contributed to a Jobless Recovery?" Current Issues in Economics and Finance, vol. 9, no. 8 (New York, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 2003), pp. 1–7; Paul J. Devereux, "Effects of Industry Growth and Decline on Gender and Education Wage Gaps in the 1980s," Industrial & Labor Relations Review, July 2005, pp. 552–570; and Marios Michaelides and Peter Mueser, "Recent Changes in the Characteristics of Unemployed Workers," ETA Occasional Paper 2009–13 (U.S. Department of Labor, August 2009).
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