The Disposable Work Force: Worker Displacement and Employment Instability in America

The twenty-first century has witnessed a transformation of the organization, opportunities, and terms of work. Downsizing, restructuring, and outsourcing are the forces altering employment relationships throughout the work force. Those who tend to see the future in a positive light view the evolving role between employer and employee as empowering for the individual. This book examines the consequences of economic instability due to job loss and the displacement of millions of workers. It draws upon case studies of worker displacement as well as national labor force surveys. Thomas S. Moore finds that consequences of economic instability are productivity slowdown, increased disparities in earnings and income, and higher average unemployment. He assesses the extent of job loss nationwide, its costs to the individuals directly affected, and the way in which the incidence of displacement and earnings loss has shifted over time. Although drawn from an earlier period, the data have an obvious relevance to today's labor markets. Moore argues for an employment and training system that gives employers an incentive to invest in the skills of their employees. Federally funded training programs have not improved the earning ability of displaced and disadvantaged workers, and state-sponsored programs tend to exclude those most in need of assistance. Moore suggests direct employer investment in the general skills of employees. Initially published in a different economic downturn, this continues to be a must read book for all economists, sociologists, and policymakers.