Bad Jobs, Bad Jobs, Whatcha Gonna Do?

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Written by Janelle Jones   
Friday, 07 September 2012 12:20

Earlier this week, John Schmitt and I released a CEPR report on the rise of "bad jobs" over the past three decades. The new report is a follow-up to "Where Have All the Good Jobs Gone?", which CEPR released in July. Together, the two papers are like looking at two sides of the same, depressing coin.

We define a bad job as one that pays less than $37,000 per year, lacks employer-provided health insurance, and has no employer-sponsored retirement plan. In 2010, the most recently available data, about 24 percent of U.S. workers were in a bad job, up from 18 percent of workers in 1979. The share of women in bad jobs only increased about 1 percentage point between 1979 and 2010; for men, there was a 10 percentage-point increase over the same period. But, at every point in the last 30 years, women were still more likely than men to be in a bad job.

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The increase in bad jobs occurred even as the workforce, on average, became more educated and experienced --just the opposite of what we would not just hope for, but expect, from the economy.