Why have both Great Britain and the United States been unable to create effective training and work programs for the unemployed? Desmond King contends that the answer lies in the liberal political origins of these programs. Integrating extensive, previously untapped archival and documentary materials with an analysis of the sources of political support for work-welfare programs, King shows that policymakers in both Great Britain and the United States have tried to achieve conflicting goals through these programs.
The goal of work-welfare policy in both countries has been to provide financial aid, training, and placement services for the unemployed. In order to muster support for these programs, however, work-welfare programs had to incorporate liberal requirements that they not interfere with private market forces, and that they prevent the "undeserving" from obtaining benefits. For King, the attempt to integrate these incompatible functions is the defining feature of British and American policies as well as the cause of their failure.
The history of unemployment and concepts surrounding it remain a mystery to many Americans. Frank Stricker believes we need to understand this essential thread in our shared past. American Unemployment is an introduction for everyone that takes aim at misinformation, willful deceptions, and popular myths to set the record straight:
Workers do not normally choose to be unemployed.
In our current system, persistent unemployment is not an aberration. It is much more common than full employment, and the outcome of elite policy choices.
Labor surpluses propped up by flawed unemployment numbers have helped to keep real wages stagnant for more than forty years.
Prior to the New Deal and the era of big government, laissez-faire policies repeatedly led to depressions with heavy, even catastrophic, job losses.
Undercounting the unemployed sabotages the creation of government job programs that can lead to more high-paying jobs and full employment.
Written for non-economists, American Unemployment is a history and primer on vital economic topics that also provides a roadmap to better jobs and economic security.
In the 1930s, the unemployed were organizing. Jobless workers felt they were “entitled" to a new kind of government protection—the protection from undeserved unemployment and the financial straits that such unemployment created. They wanted dignified forms of relief (including work relief) during the Depression, and unemployment insurance after.
Becoming Entitled artfully chronicles the emergence of this worker entitlement and the people who cultivated it. Abigail Trollinger focuses largely on Chicago after the Progressive Era, where the settlement house and labor movements both flourished. She shows how reformers joined workers and relief officials to redeem the unemployed and secure government-funded social insurance for them. Becoming Entitled also offers a critical reappraisal of New Deal social and economic changes, suggesting that the transformations of the 1930s came from reformers in the “middle,” who helped establish a limited form of entitlement for workers.
Ultimately, Trollinger highlights the achievements made by reformers working on city- and nation-wide issues. She captures the moment when some people shed the stigma that came with unemployment and demanded that the government do the same.
The Black Youth Employment Crisis
Edited by Richard B. Freeman and Harry J. Holzer University of Chicago Press, 1986 Library of Congress HD6273.B57 1986 | Dewey Decimal 331.346396073
In recent years, the earnings of young blacks have risen substantially relative to those of young whites, but their rates of joblessness have also risen to crisis levels. The papers in this volume, drawing on the results of a groundbreaking survey conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, analyze the history, causes, and features of this crisis. The findings they report and conclusions they reach revise accepted explanations of black youth unemployment.
The contributors identify primary determinants on both the demand and supply sides of the market and provide new information on important aspects of the problem, such as drug use, crime, economic incentives, and attitudes among the unemployed. Their studies reveal that, contrary to popular assumptions, no single factor is the predominant cause of black youth employment problems. They show, among other significant factors, that where female employment is high, black youth employment is low; that even in areas where there are many jobs, black youths get relatively few of them; that the perceived risks and rewards of crime affect decisions to work or to engage in illegal activity; and that churchgoing and aspirations affect the success of black youths in finding employment.
Altogether, these papers illuminate a broad range of economic and social factors which must be understood by policymakers before the black youth employment crisis can be successfully addressed.
The advent of economic neoliberalism in the 1980s triggered a shift in the world economy. In the three decades following World War II, now considered a golden age of capitalism, economic growth was high and income inequality decreasing. But in the mid-1970s this social compact was broken as the world economy entered the stagflation crisis, following a decline in the profitability of capital. This crisis opened a new phase of stagnating growth and wages, and unemployment. Interest rates as well as dividend flows rose, and income inequality widened.
Economists Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy show that, despite free market platitudes, neoliberalism was a planned effort by financial interests against the postwar Keynesian compromise. The cluster of neoliberal policies--including privatization, liberalization of world trade, and reduction in state welfare benefits--is an expression of the power of finance in the world economy.
The sequence of events initiated by neoliberalism was not unprecedented. In the late nineteenth century, when economic conditions were similar to those of the 1970s, a structural crisis led to the first financial hegemony culminating in the speculative boom of the late 1920s. The authors argue persuasively for stabilizing the world economy before we run headlong into another economic disaster.
In the 1980s a team of Dutch sociologists conducted a study on the daily life of unemployed in the Netherlands. They were inspired by the classical work Marienthal: the Sociology of an Unemployed Community first published in 1933. The authors conducted three neighborhood studies to analyze the social behavior of the unemployed. Based on the work of Robert K. Merton and Mary Douglas they developed a typology of different cultures of unemployment. This typology is still relevant to analyze contemporary reactions to unemployment in European welfare states. The authors also demonstrated that their cultural analysis is fruitful to understand the heterogeneity of urban marginality in the United States. A foreword by U.S. scholar William Julius Wilson emphasizes the universality of the method and the findings presented here.
The End of the Line tells the story of the 1988 closing of the Chrysler assembly plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kathryn Marie Dudley uses interviews with residents to chart the often confusing process of change that deindustrialization forced on every corner of the community. This honest, moving portrait of one town's radical shift from a manufacturing to a postindustrial economy will redefine the way Americans think about our families, communities, and future.
"An excellent study not only of the cultural disruptions caused by the shutdown of Chrysler's operations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but also of the ideology of progress that abetted the shutdown."—Stephen Amberg, Industrial and Labor Relations Review
"With the eye of an anthropologist, [Dudley] examines the tensions between the 'culture of hands' and the 'culture of mind.' Her account is especially instructive because, by many measures, Kenosha has successfully recovered, yet for many the pain still remains."—Booklist
"Exceptional. . . . Should be widely read."—Douglas Harper, Contemporary Sociology
"Make[s] clear what a tenuous concept economic security is, especially when the rules for achieving security are in flux."—Barbara Presley Noble, New York Times
How do ambitious young men grapple with an unemployment rate in urban Ethiopia hovering around fifty percent? Urban, educated, and unemployed young men have been the primary force behind the recent unrest and revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East. Daniel Mains' detailed and moving ethnographic study, Hope is Cut, examines young men's struggles to retain hope for the future in the midst of economic uncertainty and cultural globalization.
Through a close ethnographic examination of young men's day-to-day lives Hope is Cut explores the construction of optimism through activities like formal schooling, the consumption of international films, and the use of khat, a mild stimulant.
Mains also provides a consideration of social theories concerning space, time, and capitalism. Young men here experience unemployment as a problem of time—they often congregate on street corners, joking that the only change in their lives is the sun rising and setting. Mains addresses these factors and the importance of reciprocity and international migration as a means of overcoming the barriers to attaining aspirations.
Losing a job has always been understood as one of the most important causes of downward social mobility in modern societies. And it's only gotten worse in recent years, as the weakening position of workers has made re-entering the labour market even tougher. The Impact of Losing Your Job builds on findings from life course sociology to show clearly just what effects job loss has on income, family life, and future prospects. Key to Ehlert's analysis is a comparative look at the United States and Germany that enables him to show how different approaches to welfare state policies can ameliorate the effects of job loss-but can at the same time make labour insecurity more common.
It is commonplace in contemporary American politics for those who experience economic strain to join together and ask the government for help. The unemployed, by and large, have not done so. In their study, Kay Lehman Schlozman and Sidney Verba look closely at the unemployed and ask why not.
Using the results of a large-scale survey supplemented by intensive interviews, the authors consider the political attitudes and behavior of the unemployed: how much hardship they feel, how they interpret their joblessness, what they do about it, how they view the American social order, and how they vote or otherwise take part in politics. The analysis is placed in the context of several larger concerns: the relationship between stress in private life and conduct in public life, the circumstances under which the disadvantaged are mobilized for politics, the changing role of social class in America, and the links between politics and macroeconomic conditions.
Our jobs are often a big part of our identities, and when we are fired, we can feel confused, hurt, and powerless—at sea in terms of who we are. Drawing on extensive, real-life interviews, Job Loss, Identity, and Mental Health shines a light on the experiences of unemployed, middle-class professional men and women, showing how job loss can affect both identity and mental health.
Sociologist Dawn R. Norris uses in-depth interviews to offer insight into the experience of losing a job—what it means for daily life, how the unemployed feel about it, and the process they go through as they try to deal with job loss and their new identities as unemployed people. Norris highlights several specific challenges to identity that can occur. For instance, the way other people interact with the unemployed either helps them feel sure about who they are, or leads them to question their identities. Another identity threat happens when the unemployed no longer feel they are the same person they used to be. Norris also examines the importance of the subjective meaning people give to statuses, along with the strong influence of society’s expectations. For example, men in Norris’s study often used the stereotype of the “male breadwinner” to define who they were. Job Loss, Identity, and Mental Health describes various strategies to cope with identity loss, including “shifting” away from a work-related identity and instead emphasizing a nonwork identity (such as “a parent”), or conversely “sustaining” a work-related identity even though he or she is actually unemployed. Finally, Norris explores the social factors—often out of the control of unemployed people—that make these strategies possible or impossible.
A compelling portrait of a little-studied aspect of the Great Recession, Job Loss, Identity, and Mental Health is filled with insight into the identity crises that unemployment can trigger, as well as strategies to help the unemployed maintain their mental strength.
Americans have always believed that economic growth leads to job growth. In this groundbreaking analysis, Stanley Aronowitz argues that this is no longer true. Just Around the Corner examines the state of the American economy as planned by Democrats and Republicans over the last thirty years. Aronowitz finds that economic growth has become "delinked" from job creation, and that unemployment and underemployment are a permanent condition of our economy. He traces the historical roots of this state of affairs and sees under the surface of booms and busts a continuum of economic austerity that creates financial windfalls for the rich at the expense of most Americans. Aronowitz also explores the cultural and political processes by which we have come to describe and accept economics in the United States. He concludes by presenting a concrete plan of action that would guarantee employment and living wages for all Americans. With both measured analysis and persuasive reasoning, Just Around the Corner provides an indispensable guide to our current economic predicament and a bold challenge to economists and policymakers.
In 1990, Hartford, Connecticut, ranked as the eight poorest city in the country by the census; the real estate market was severely depressed; downtown insurance companies were laying off and the retail department stores were closing; public services were strained; and demolition sites abandoned for lack of funds pockmarked the streets. Hartford's problems are typical of those experienced in numerous U.S. cities affected by a lingering recession.
The harsh economic times felt throughout the city's workplaces and neighborhoods precipitated the formation of grassroots alliances between labor and community organizations. Coming together to create new techniques, their work has national implications for the development of alternative strategies for stimulating economic recovery.
Louise B. Simmons, a former Hartford City Councilperson, offers an insider's view of these coalitions, focusing on three activist unions—rhe New England Health Care Employees Union, the Hotel and Restaurant Employees, and the United Auto Workers—and three community groups—Hartford Areas Rally Together, Organized North Easterners-Clay Hill and North End, and Asylum Hill Organizing Project. Her in-depth analysis illustrates these groups' successes and difficulties in working together toward a new vision of urban politics.
In the series Labor and Social Change, edited by Paula Rayman and Carmen Sirianni.
The "political business cycle", according to economist William Nordhaus, creates a situation in which political and bureaucratic incentives create artificial economic booms just before elections, with consequent and deleterious side effects after the ballots are counted. This work examines the issue of whether federal governmental structure inevitably leaves the U.S. economy exposed to unhealthy political influences.
Dissatisfied with the explanations of the business cycle provided by the Keynesian, monetarist, New Keynesian, and real business cycle schools, Edmund Phelps has developed from various existing strands—some modern and some classical—a radically different theory to account for the long periods of unemployment that have dogged the economies of the United States and Western Europe since the early 1970s. Phelps sees secular shifts and long swings of the unemployment rate as structural in nature. That is, they are typically the result of movements in the natural rate of unemployment (to which the equilibrium path is always tending) rather than of long-persisting deviations around a natural rate itself impervious to changing structure. What has been lacking is a “structuralist” theory of how the natural rate is disturbed by real demand and supply shocks, foreign and domestic, and the adjustments they set in motion.
To study the determination of the natural rate path, Phelps constructs three stylized general equilibrium models, each one built around a distinct kind of asset in which firms invest and which is important for the hiring decision. An element of these models is the modern economics of the labor market whereby firms, in seeking to dampen their employees’ propensities to quit and shirk, drive wages above market-clearing levels-the phenomenon of the “incentive wage”—and so generate involuntary unemployment in labor-market equilibrium. Another element is the capital market, where interest rates are disturbed by demand and supply shocks such as shifts in profitability, thrift, productivity, and the rate of technical progress and population increase. A general-equilibrium analysis shows how various real shocks, operating through interest rates upon the demand for employees and through the propensity to quit and shirk upon the incentive wage, act upon the natural rate (and thus equilibrium path).
In an econometric and historical section, the new theory of economic activity is submitted to certain empirical tests against global postwar data. In the final section the author draws from the theory some suggestions for government policy measures that would best serve to combat structural slumps.
Many Americans believe three things about jobs and the environment: that the implementation of environmental protection measures has created ongoing, widespread unemployment; that it has caused large numbers of plant shutdowns and layoffs in manufacturing; and that it has led many U.S. firms to flee to developing countries with lax environmental regulations. Virtually all economists who have studied the issue agree that each of these propositions is false.In The Trade-Off Myth, economist Eban Goodstein provides an in-depth examination of the deep-seated, but ultimately mistaken, American belief in a widespread jobs-environment trade-off. Remarkably, his is the first book to state unambiguously the truth about jobs and the environment. Goodstein offers a readable and accessible analysis of the labor impacts of environmental regulation, as he: considers the roots and staying power of misperceptions regarding job security and environmental regulation analyzes various models used to predict employment impacts, and explains how changes in assumptions can drastically change predicted outcomes lists and debunks, myth-by-myth, widely held perceptions about the impacts of environmental regulation on jobs examines localized hardships caused by environmental protection measures within specific industries and regions, and considers what can be done to mitigate those impacts explores the revisionist view that environmental protection measures can actually create jobs looks at jobs-environment issues that are likely to emerge as we attack the problem of global warming.The Trade-Off Myth presents in clear, accessible language the consensus of economists who have examined the jobs-environment issue, and offers the first comprehensive look at the truth behind the myths that pervade discourse on environmental regulation. It will be essential reading for environmentalists, concerned citizens, policymakers, public officials, and anyone involved with debates over strengthening environmental regulations.
Over the last three decades, large-scale economic developments, such as technological change, the decline in unionization, and changing skill requirements, have exacted their biggest toll on low-wage workers. These workers often possess few marketable skills and few resources with which to support themselves during periods of economic transition. In Working and Poor, a distinguished group of economists and policy experts, headlined by editors Rebecca Blank, Sheldon Danziger, and Robert Schoeni, examine how economic and policy changes over the last twenty-five years have affected the well-being of low-wage workers and their families. Working and Poor examines every facet of the economic well-being of less-skilled workers, from employment and earnings opportunities to consumption behavior and social assistance policies. Rebecca Blank and Heidi Schierholz document the different trends in work and wages among less-skilled women and men. Between 1979 and 2003, labor force participation rose rapidly for these women, along with more modest increases in wages, while among the men both employment and wages fell. David Card and John DiNardo review the evidence on how technological changes have affected less-skilled workers and conclude that the effect has been smaller than many observers claim. Philip Levine examines the effectiveness of the Unemployment Insurance program during recessions. He finds that the program's eligibility rules, which deny benefits to workers who have not met minimum earnings requirements, exclude the very people who require help most and should be adjusted to provide for those with the highest need. On the other hand, Therese J. McGuire and David F. Merriman show that government help remains a valuable source of support during economic downturns. They find that during the most recent recession in 2001, when state budgets were stretched thin, legislatures resisted political pressure to cut spending for the poor. Working and Poor provides a valuable analysis of the role that public policy changes can play in improving the plight of the working poor. A comprehensive analysis of trends over the last twenty-five years, this book provides an invaluable reference for the public discussion of work and poverty in America. A Volume in the National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy
The economic status of young people has declined significantly over the past two decades, despite a variety of programs designed to aid new workers in the transition from the classroom to the job market. This ongoing problem has proved difficult to explain. Drawing on comparative data from Canada, Germany, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, these papers go beyond examining only employment and wages and explore the effects of family background, education and training, social expectations, and crime on youth employment.
This volume brings together key studies, providing detailed analyses of the difficult economic situation plaguing young workers. Why have demographic changes and additional schooling failed to resolve youth unemployment? How effective have those economic policies been which aimed to improve the labor skills and marketability of young people? And how have youths themselves responded to the deteriorating job market confronting them? These questions form the empirical and organizational bases upon which these studies are founded.