Magazine article Black Enterprise

Finding a Cure to White-Collar Blues

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Finding a Cure to White-Collar Blues

Article excerpt

The structural transformation of the American economy coupled with a persistent recession, is playing havoc with the dreams of American youth. The growth rate of white-collar jobs, which were viewed by many young people as tickets to the middle class and economic security, has plateaued.

In the past, jobs in professional, technical, sales and managerial fields were less vulnerable to fluctuations in the business cycle. In fact, to many of the nation's families, a white-collar daughter or son indicated social advancement.

Future growth prospects in white collar occupations are influenced significantly by two major forces: (1) the transformation of the U.S. economy in an increasingly competitive global marketplace and (2) the persistent recession.

The American economy has experienced major structural change during the past four decades. Between 1947 and 1985, the share of gross national product (GNP) originating in manufacturing declined by 11%, while the share in services, finance and related industries rose 23% and 26%, respectively.

The shifts has a strong impact on employment. Manufacturing jobs as a share of non-farm employment declined by 44%. By contrast, the share of service jobs doubled, and financial-industry jobs grew by 50%. Most of the job losses hit blue-collar occupations, but the growth rate of white-collar jobs also declined in manufacturing industries in competitive markets. Slow sales, coupled with increasing competition in world markets, forced many business firms to cut back on white-collar jobs in ways not seen in recent U.S. economic experience. Also, while the growth rate of white-collar service sector jobs increased faster than other jobs, there were fewer such jobs than commonly perceived.

The historical pattern of job growth has been broken. During the first 15 months of the 1973-75 recession, white-collar jobs grew by 636,000. …

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