RSF:The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences
Issue on New Developments in American Job Quality: Understanding the Recent Rise of Low-Wage Jobs and Nonstandard Work Arrangments
David R. Howell, The New School
Arne L. Kalleberg, University of North Carolina
The question of job quality has emerged as a key challenge for researchers and policy-makers in the 21st century. The growing realization that the quality, not just the quantity, of jobs is central to addressing a myriad of social and economic problems—such as economic development, family formation and social integration, poverty and inequality, and individual well-being—has put this age-old topic on the front burner for social scientists.
This issue of RSF will focus on two important dimensions of the quality of jobs created in the past three decades in the United States. First, there has been an expansion of low-wage jobs, a phenomenon that has been documented by numerous studies, many of which have been sponsored by the Russell Sage Foundation. This proliferation of low-wage work, especially among younger workers, has contributed to the weakening of the middle class, reversing the dramatic improvements experienced by the middle of the income distribution in the three decades following World War II.