Where Have All the (Good) Jobs Gone? (with apologies to Pete Seeger)

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 16.06.2014, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

John M. Abowd (Cornell University)


A good job is one that generates a large surplus or quasi-rent per worker. Using all the businesses that report in the 1997, 2002, 2007, and 2012 U.S. Economic Censuses, as recorded in the Business Register, and linking information about factor opportunity costs from a variety of sources, I estimate the surplus per worker at each business. Then, I study job creations and destructions as they are related to high surplus (good) jobs as compared to low surplus (bad) jobs. Good and bad jobs are recycled back into the economy. Good jobs are created at a slower rate than bad jobs, but they are also destroyed at a slower rate. Over the years 1997-2012, net employment growth in jobs with low surplus per worker (bad jobs) has declined dramatically. Over the same period, net employment growth in jobs with high surplus per worker (good) jobs has declined less steeply and is now greater than the net growth in employment in low surplus per worker (bad) jobs. There are substantially more good jobs in 2012 than there were in 1997, but they hold a smaller proportion of the workforce. Good jobs tend to be geographically clustered in larger urban areas, and there is some evidence of increased clustering by 2012.

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