Politics & Policy

More Than McJobs

EDITOR’S NOTE: The August 31, 1992, issue of National Review, set out to set the record straight about the Reagan administration’s economic record. We reprint the content of the issue here.

Myth: Most of the jobs created during the Eighties were of the dead-end, burger-flipper variety.

“Caught between the lawmakers in Washington and the dealmakers on Wall Street have been millions of American workers forced to move between jobs that once paid $15 an hour into jobs that now pay $7.

“As a result, the already-rich are richer than ever; there has been an explosion in overnight new rich; life for the working class is deteriorating, and those at the bottom are trapped.”

-Donald L. Barlett and

James B. Steele, “America: What Went Wrong,”

Philadelphia Inquirer,

October 20, 1991

Contrary to what everyone knows to be true, 82 per cent of the jobs created during the Reagan recovery were in the higher-paying, higher-skilled occupations (technical, precision production, managerial, and professional). Many of these are “service” jobs, including positions in law, advertising, computers, and medicine. Only 12 per cent of the increase in employment occurred in the lowest-paid, low-skilled service occupations such as retailing and fast-food restaurants.

Studies purporting to show an erosion of job quality are quite often flawed. In December 1986, for example, a report commissioned by the Democratic members of the Joint Economic Committee concluded that six out of every ten new jobs created during the expansion paid less than $7,000 per year. The study, however, failed to note the high-proportion of (voluntary) part-time workers among newly employed individuals.

Mr. Rubenstein is NR’s economist analyst.

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