New Article at Good Magazine, Research Note, about Occupations, the Gendered Recovery and the Great Speedup

Bryce Covert and I have an article at Good Magazine, Where Have All the Administrative Assistants Gone?, which is all about the gendered nature of the recovery and the Great Speedup.  There’s also a short research note that goes along with the article, Women Laid Off, Workers Sped Up: Support Staff Hold a Clue to the Gendered Recover, that goes into the data a bit more.

Women have lost jobs since the end of the recession.  I had thought this was primarily a story about public workers, especially teachers, being laid off (see the interactive chart here).  But a recent Pew Research Center study by Rakesh Kochhar, Two Years of Economic Recovery: Women Lose Jobs, Men Find Them, pointed out that there’s something happening in the private sector – men are doing better across private industries as well.  The study was inconclusive as to what was driving the results; several others discussed the article and had thoughts about what was happening (see Washington Post, Annie Lowrey, Dana Goldstein).

We decided to follow-up Pew’s excellent study by looking at the occupation data instead of industry data – occupations are what you do, industries are what your workplace does – and found some interesting results.  They’re related to another thing that I’ve been meaning to investigate more: a phenomenon that Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein call the Great Speedup, where workers are being squeezed to do more with less while corporate profits skyrocket.  Which are all parts of the bigger questions we need to answer: who benefits from the weak recovery, and how are the relationships between workers and bosses changing, perhaps for the long-term, under our current economy with sky-high unemployment?

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6 Responses to New Article at Good Magazine, Research Note, about Occupations, the Gendered Recovery and the Great Speedup

  1. Dan Kervick says:

    Just a personal observation from an average corporate cubicle worker: the great speedup is not sustainable. The initial response to massive layoffs all around one’s company, and to a terrifying recession, is to give everyone a kick in the ass and make them work harder. You could be next, after all. But over time that higher level of effort and productivity evolves into fatigue and frustration, output stagnates and declines, and the effect of setting employees at one another’s throats by destroying their security is too much internal competition and turf battling. In the end this is destructive of the productivity gains and cost-savings that the layoffs were intrinsically designed to generate.

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  3. Mike Easterly says:

    Be careful not to mistake a cyclical phenomenon with secular trends. My first reaction when reading your post was that this is what happens whenever we have a recession–firms “sweat” workers, as Michael Piore puts it.

  4. Misaki says:

    According to an article in The Economist a few months ago, males experienced higher job less during the recession due to the specific industries that declined during that period. The earned-income tax credit was also mentioned as increasing the relative real wages of low-income single females with children, compared to low-income single males.

    The economics profession needs to realize the obvious: economics is the distribution of scarce resources, and in the present world consumer demand for consumption of products is scarce, meaning that the work required of society is also scarce. Since in non-communist societies income is directly related to work done, economics has the responsibility of understanding the allocation of scarce amounts of work.

    A 9.2% unemployment rate and 5 unemployed for every job vacancy does not demonstrate an acceptable understanding of this basic concept. Either there must be a resolution that society should create larger amounts of “work” that do not increase the standard of living as defined by the choices of people who refrain from spending their money, or the economic profession should accept that the goals of people place an upper limit on the total amount of work society feels it is necessary to do, and should advice policymakers on ways to distribute this work fairly among the able population.

    Anyone who cares about the inevitable consequences that result from the unequal distribution of work, who feels that these consequences are “destructive” or indicative of “a true moral failure“, should consider which of these choices is superior instead of contemplating the future in a fruitless morass of indecision. (MMI)

    Also, iPods.

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