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The 'Middle Dipper' of the American Labour Market - Zsofia BARANY and co-author Christian SIEGEL's findings are featured on the AEA's website


In an article published in the January issue of the prestigious American Economic Review: Macroeconomics, the Department's Zsofia BARANY, and her co-author Christian SIEGEL, demonstrate that the well-documented phenomenon of job polarization of the US labour market may have started as early as the 1950s or 1960s.

Two of their bar graphs that illustrate their work were featured in the AEA's "Chart of the Week".

Since the 1980s economic research has pointed to the hollowing out of the American labour market, i.e. the expansion of the US labour force only at its extremes (high and low-paid positions) which leaves the middle-wage positions requiring moderate skills training a smaller share of overall employment.

"The bar graphs above (...) show the decade-by-decade change in hours worked and wages for ten broad occupational categories. The three groups on the right — managers, professionals, and technicians — are the most educated and highest paid. The three on the left are the least educated and lowest paid. Middle-skilled are the four in the middle.

"There is no clear pattern in the employment growth of these occupational categories between 1950 and 1960. However, from 1960 onwards there is a U-shaped pattern in which total hours worked and wage growth rates began growing at the higher and lower ends of the skill distribution."

Link to AEA "Chart of the Week"
Link to Zsofia BARANY and Christian SIEGEL's article Job Polarization and Structural Change, American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics 2018, 10(1): 57–89

More about Zsofia BARANY and her research