EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Has U.S. employment really polarized? A critical reappraisal

Jennifer Hunt and Ryan Nunn

Labour Economics, 2022, vol. 75, issue C

Abstract: We re-examine whether U.S. workers have become increasingly concentrated in low and high-wage jobs relative to middle-wage jobs, a phenomenon known as employment polarization. We find that the typical occupation-based approach of previous literature has significant weaknesses, leading us to prefer a worker-based approach. At both the occupation and individual level, we do find a decline since 1973 in the share of workers earning middle wages. However, the large increase in the share of high-paid workers is not accompanied by any substantial increase in the share of low-paid workers—inconsistent with employment polarization. In particular, we find that the share of employment in low-wage occupations did not increase during the 1990s, and that the apparent growth (and therefore polarization) found in the previous literature is an artefact of occupation code redefinitions. We therefore do not find support for the view that employment was polarizing during the 1990s (whether because of automation or other factors).

Keywords: Employment polarization; Wage inequality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0927537122000100
Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:labeco:v:75:y:2022:i:c:s0927537122000100

DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2022.102117

Access Statistics for this article

Labour Economics is currently edited by A. Ichino

More articles in Labour Economics from Elsevier
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Catherine Liu ().

 
Page updated 2022-07-02
Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:75:y:2022:i:c:s0927537122000100