Over the last three decades, large-scale economic developments, such as technological change, the decline in unionization, and changing skill requirements, have exacted their biggest toll on low-wage workers. These workers often possess few marketable skills and few resources with which to support themselves during periods of economic transition. In Working and Poor, a distinguished group of economists and policy experts, headlined by editors Rebecca Blank, Sheldon Danziger, and Robert Schoeni, examine how economic and policy changes over the last twenty-five years have affected the well-being of low-wage workers and their families.
Working and Poor examines every facet of the economic well-being of less-skilled workers, from employment and earnings opportunities to consumption behavior and social assistance policies. Rebecca Blank and Heidi Schierholz document the different trends in work and wages among less-skilled women and men. Between 1979 and 2003, labor force participation rose rapidly for these women, along with more modest increases in wages, while among the men both employment and wages fell. David Card and John DiNardo review the evidence on how technological changes have affected less-skilled workers and conclude that the effect has been smaller than many observers claim. Philip Levine examines the effectiveness of the Unemployment Insurance program during recessions. He finds that the program’s eligibility rules, which deny benefits to workers who have not met minimum earnings requirements, exclude the very people who require help most and should be adjusted to provide for those with the highest need. On the other hand, Therese J. McGuire and David F. Merriman show that government help remains a valuable source of support during economic downturns. They find that during the most recent recession in 2001, when state budgets were stretched thin, legislatures resisted political pressure to cut spending for the poor.
Working and Poor provides a valuable analysis of the role that public policy changes can play in improving the plight of the working poor. A comprehensive analysis of trends over the last twenty-five years, this book provides an invaluable reference for the public discussion of work and poverty in America. (author abstract)
Table of Contents
Work and Poverty During the Past Quarter-Century Rebecca M. Blank, Sheldon H. Danziger, and Robert F. Schoeni
PART I WHAT IS CHANGING IN THE LABOR MARKET FOR LOW-SKILLED WORKERS, AND WHY?
Chapter 1 Exploring Gender Differences in Employment and Wage Trends among Less-skilled Workers Rebecca M. Blank and Heidi Shierholz
Chapter 2 Wage Trends among Disadvantaged Minorities George J. Borjas
PART II HOW DO ECONOMIC TRENDS AFFECT LESS-SKILLED WORKERS?
Chapter 3 The Macroeconomy and Determinants of the Earnings of Less-skilled Workers Robert E. Hall
Chapter 4 The Impact of Technological Change on Low-wage Workers: A Review David Card and John DiNardo
Chapter 5 The Changing Pattern of Wage Growth for Low-skilled Workers Eric French, Bhashkar Mazumder, and Christopher Taber
PART III HOW DO MACROECONOMIC CHANGES INFLUENCE WELL-BEING MEASURES BEYOND INCOME?
Chapter 6 The Level and Composition of Consumption over the Business Cycle: The Role of "Quasi-Fixed" Expenditures Kerwin Kofi Charles and Melvin Stephens Jr.
Chapter 7 Recent Trends in Resource Sharing among the Poor Steven J. Haider and Kathleen McGarry
Chapter 8 Economic Conditions and Children's Living Arrangements Rebecca A. London and Robert W. Fairlie
PART IV HOW DO POLICY CHANGES INTERACT WITH THE ECONOMY AND ECONOMIC WELL-BEING?
Chapter 9 How do Tax Policies Affect Low-income Workers? Kevin A. Hassett and Anne Moore
Chapter 10 State Spending on Social Assistance Programs over the Business Cycle Therese J. McGuire and David F. Merriman
Chapter 11 Temporary Agency Employment: A Way Out of Poverty? David Autor and Susan Houseman
Chapter 12 Child Support and the Economy Maria Cancian and Daniel R. Meyer
Chapter 13 Unemployment Insurance over the Business Cycle: Does it Meet the Needs of Less-skilled Workers? Phillip B. Levine
Chapter 14 How is Health Insurance Affected by the Economy? Public and Private Coverage among Low-skilled Adults in the 1990s Helen Levy