Re: Contingency and Irony

Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

>The BLS definition of contingency seems quite narrow. So the BLS doesn't
>think of cutting union jobs and subcontracting work to non-union suppliers
>as a sign of increasing contingency, for instance. And according to its
>stats, explicit 'alternative arrangements' in themselves don't make workers
>'contingent.' And not all part-time workers, according to the BLS, are
>contingent, as long as workers expect their jobs to last: "Only 10 percent
>of all part-time workers were contingent, however."

Well, we're going far afield for a Foucault list, but a nonunion job
doesn't have to be contingent; most Americans work at nonunion,
noncontingent jobs in fact. Neither is part-time work contingent, though
people who want to boost the contingency count often include part-timers.
It's easy to understand why academics think that 40% of the workforce is
contingent, since they work in one of the most contingent-intensive fields

I've also been reading through the literature on job instability. In the
U.S., the evidence is decidedly mixed, with some studies showing a rise in
the risk of job loss in the 1970s and 1980s (but not into the 1990s), and
others showing no significant rise. Average job tenure has been falling
slightly for men and rising slightly for women, so the averages are about
flat. People who do lose their jobs seem to be having a rougher time of it
now than 20-25 years ago - it takes longer to find new work, and the hit to
pay is larger. There's also evidence that wages became more volatile in the
1970s and 1980s (but again not into the 1990s). But people say a lot of
things about the U.S. labor market that just aren't visible in the numbers.


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