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Monthly Labor Review Online

August, 2001, Vol. 124, No. 8

Labor month in review

ArrowThe August Review
ArrowWomen’s employment rate varies by city 
ArrowTenure down for men, up for women 
ArrowTen occupations, 5 million jobs 
ArrowMore spending on clothes 
ArrowWages highest in Middle Atlantic 

The August Review

Michael Horrigan and James Walker’s introductory article to this issue do far more to prepare the reader for the following papers than the usual summaries that appear in this space would. The overall themes that the reader should be watching for are youth choices and a new tool for measuring the impact of those choices. The National Longitudinal Survey 1997 represents the culmination of many years of work and the support of a wide variety of stakeholders, from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development to the Department of Defense. The result is a rich source of data that, as Horrigan and Walker state, "will provide valuable insights into the dynamic processes that influence the pathways that are taken through life."

In this first selection of NLSY97-based article to appear in Monthly Labor Review, Mary Joyce and David Neumark look at how youths choose to participate in school-to-work programs, Lynn Huang, Michael Pergamit and Jamie Shkolnik trace the employment of 12- and 13-year olds, Donna Rothstein examines the employment of 14- to 16- year-olds and also analyzes employment patterns during the school year, and Rosella Gardecki discusses racial gaps in employment.


Women’s employment rate varies by city

The two largest metropolitan areas in the country were among the areas with the lowest proportions of women who worked for pay in 1999. In the New York metropolitan area, 49.2 percent of women had jobs, while in Los Angeles, the proportion was 52.7 percent.

In contrast, in Minneapolis-St. Paul, more than two-thirds (70.7 percent) of women were employed. The metropolitan areas with the next highest levels of employment were Atlanta, where 65.9 percent of women worked for pay, and Washington, DC, where 64.5 percent of women were employed.


Tenure down for men, up for women

Over the last 2 decades, men’s job tenure—that is, the number of years men have been with their employer—has fallen. In contrast, the job tenure of women has risen slightly. People change jobs for many reasons. For instance, if the economy is performing well, more workers may take the opportunity to change jobs. When that happens, measures of workers’ length of service can go down.

These data are from the Current Population Survey. The questions on tenure in the CPS measure how long workers had been with their current employer at the time they were surveyed, not how long they will eventually stay with their employer. Job tenure for a group is measured in this article as median years of service with current employer. Find out more about employment trends in Working in the 21st Century (Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 2001).


Ten occupations, 5 million jobs

Ten occupations are projected to add a total of about 5 million jobs during the decade 1998–2008, nearly one-fourth of overall job growth. Occupations with the most job growth tend to have a large number of workers already. Six of the 10 occupations—retail salespersons, cashiers, general managers and top executives, truck drivers, general office clerks, and registered nurses—each employed at least 2 million workers in 1998. More information about work in the future is also to be found in Working in the 21st Century. The Bureau’s next round of projections goes out to 2010 and is scheduled for release in the November issue of the Review.


More spending on clothes

Consumers increased spending on apparel by 4.1 percent on average in 1999. This followed consecutive years of decreased spending in 1997 (–1.3 percent) and in 1998 (–3.2 percent). Increases of 5.5 percent in spending for men’s and boys’ clothing, 7.8 percent for footwear, and 10 percent for other apparel products and services offset an 8.2-percent decrease in clothing for children under age 2, and a small 0.6-percent increase for women’s and girls’ clothing. The "other apparel products and services" category includes expensive items such as watches and jewelry, as well as items such as laundry and dry cleaning, and is subject to fluctuation from one year to the next. Find out more in "Consumer Expenditures in 1999," BLS Report 949.


Wages highest in Middle Atlantic

Workers in the Middle Atlantic—defined as New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania—had the highest average hourly earnings of any region of the country in 1999. Private industry and State and local government workers in Middle Atlantic States averaged $17.84 per hour in 1999.

The next highest hourly earnings were in New England, with a mean of $17.18, and in the Pacific States, with a mean of $16.87. The area with the lowest hourly earnings was East South Central, where the average was $12.13 per hour. In the country as a whole, hourly earnings averaged $15.36 for private industry and State and local government workers in 1999. Additional information is available from "National Compensation Survey: Occupational Wages in the United States, 1999," BLS Summary 01–03.


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) 691–7890.

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