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Who's Not Working and Why: Employment, Cognitive Skills, Wages, and the Changing U.S. Labor Market Paperback – August 28, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


"Their approach is novel and so are their conclusions." Choice

"Frederic L. Pryor and David L. Schaffer, in Who's Not Working and Why, explore the impact of those changes on the distribution of jobs and wages and on the character of structural unemployment. Their arguments are illuminating and provocative...they are well worth heeding. A valuable contribution to the literature on changing patterns of employment, the work is suitable for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses dealing with labor economics or the character of the new economy." Perspectives on Political Science

"Pryor and Schaffer perform a useful service by offering a novel analysis of the three major labor-market phenomena of the past three decades -- rising inequality, growing female participation in the labor force and, until recently, higher unemployment at each cyclical peak. Instead of the usual focus on formal education, they demonstrate the importance of cognitive skills and their differential use among occupations. Their approach should force a rethinking of our views of the central facts of the American labor market." Daniel S. Hamermesh, University of Texas, Austin

"Pryor and Schaffer have produced an extremely insightful analysis of the growing inequality of wage incomes in U.S. labor markets and the decline in job opportunities for adult males. Their book both challenges and extends much of the conventional wisdom on the role of education and cognitive skills as determinants of these trends." Barry Bosworth, Brookings Institution

"The authors use a wealth of datasets and many different statistical methodologies to quantify the causes of what they call a fundamental failure of the US labor market. In doing so, Pryor and Schaffer debunk the myth that the low-skilled have been disproportionately hurt by imports, immigration, and changes in industry mix. Surprisingly, they show that the demand for workers in low-skilled occupations has actually increased over the last three decades, rather than decreased. Nevertheless, their policy prescriptions include the upgrading of workers skillsets. This volume offers a comprehensive and coherent examination of the key explanations for the hollowing out of the US labor market." Olivia Mitchell, The Wharton School

"Their approach is novel and so are their conclusions." Choice

"In this ingenious and important book, Pryor and Schaffer attempt to make sense of observations about resent U.S. history. Part of what makes their treatment ingenious is the fact that they supplement the Current Population Survey, the customary source in this sort of inquiry, with data on cognitive capacities from the National Adult Literacy Survey, which contain information on both language and quantitative skills." Canada Review of Sociology Anthropology

Book Description

This book presents a view of the operations of the labor market totally different from the conventional wisdom. The authors present data showing on one hand that jobs requiring a high level of education are increasing more slowly than those requiring somewhat fewer educational credentials. On the other hand, these jobs requiring less education are increasing faster than those requiring still less formal education. Additionally, Professors Pryor and Schaffer show how women are replacing men in jobs requiring higher levels of education. Using these insights the authors also explain why wages have become more unequal, why wages in those jobs requiring extra-high cognitive skills have risen and why all other wages have stagnated or fallen in the last quarter century.

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