New Internationalist

The Facts

Issue 166

new internationalist
issue 166 - December 1986

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[image, unknown]
Photo: Diego Goldberg / Camera Press
Changing jobs
The pace of change in the work world makes us dizzy. Where to find it?
How to do it? What can we expect as a reward? Here are the facts about the
emerging trends in employment and how people are adapting to them.

Job shift

Jobs in the manufacturing industries are disappearing - sometimes moving to the Third World. Some - but not all - are replaced by jobs in the service sector or new information industry. Others are automated entirely.

Industrial decline

Service sector growth

Per cent of workforce

Per cent workforce1

1965

1981

1965

1981

38 32

Australia

52 61
33 29

Canada

56 66
46 42

UK

51 56
36 32

US

59 66
36 33

Aotearoa

51 56
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  • In the US in 1978 70% of the female workforce were in low-paying mostly service-sector, jobs as opposed to 44% of the male workforce.

  • Average earnings per woman worker in the US are 59% of what a man makes while in the UK they are 71%2

  • Third World economies experiences a 5% increase in industrial employment between 1965 and 1981.
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Job loss through automation
An investment of $500 million in German industry in:

1955 - 1960 created 2 million jobs
1960 - 1965 created 400,000 jobs
1965 - 1970 destroyed 100,000 jobs
1970 - 1975 destroyed 500,000 jobs3


Shrinking labour market

Large - scale joblessness has been the lot of the Third World for decades. But the queues of the unemployed are steadily lengthening in the industrial world. Finding work is proving particularly difficult for the young.

Jobless rates4

Youth unemployment
(24 and under)

1971

1986

1960

1970

1981

Australia

1.6 %

8.9 %

2.7 %

2.8 %

16.0 %

Canada

6.2 %

10.7 %

11.4 %

10.7 %

14.1 %

UK

3.4 %

14.1 %

2.4 %

N/A

34.7 %

US

5.9 %

7.1 %

11.7 %

11.7 %

16.0 %


Number of robots
per country - 1984
5

Japan

64,000

USA

13,000

Germany

6,0005

UK

2,000

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Three out of four workers can be replaced
by some form of technology

Surviving: The informal sector

People in the Third World are more concerned with survival than the distant dream of a well-paid job. Survival in the urban slums may involve begging, shoe-shining, selling, handicrafts, prostitution, drug-pushing or petty theft. The elusive nature of full-time jobs is also boosting the number of self-employed people in the rich world.

Survival in the Third World City

Percentage working in the informal sector6
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  • The international Labour Organization estimates that over 25% of those living in Third World cities survive in the informal sector - a further 750,000 million are unemployed in the rural sector.

  • In the UK, 10% of workers are now self-employed and the self-employed are increasing by 5% a year.

  • Over 50% of labour is done in the unpaid domestic economy mostly by women engaged in housework and childcare.7

Job dissatisfaction

[image, unknown] When we have a job we give away part of ourselves to a boss. The experience is often alienating and boring. Workers express their resentment in a number of different ways.

  • In Canada the average worker 'steals back' 3 hours and 42 minutes from the boss every week in days off without cause, extended coffee and lunch breaks, reading on the job and other forms of informal leisure.8

  • Industrial jobs in the US show a worker turnover of 35% a year.

  • In Australia 1 in 5 days off known as 'sickies' is unrelated to any identifiable cause.9

  • A survey of nearly 10,000 US workers revealed that 28.4% were involved in some form of property theft from their employer.10

  • The Government estimates that 10% of US workers use dangerous drugs on the job. The medical director of Rockwell International Space Shuttle Division estimates that 20% to 25% of the workers at Rockwell's Palmdale, California, assembly plant were high on drugs, alcohol or both.

[image, unknown] Coping

As lifelong jobs and careers disappear people are re-evaluating the role of work in their lives. Whether by choice or necessity they are trading wages for more time for themselves.

 

Percentage of labour force working part-time
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  • In Australia the number of people working part-time increased 138% between 1964 and 1978.

  • By the mid-1990s the UK part-time work force is projected to grow 30%

Early retirement

  • In 1964 27% of the men between 65 and 69 were still working in the UK. By 1978 this had dropped to 7%

  • In the US 45.8% of those over 65 continued working in 1950. By 1979 the figure had dropped to 20%. There was a 10% drop for workers between the ages of 55 and 64.12
Percentage annual reduction in working time per day

1960 - 70

1970 - 73

1973 - 76

1976 - 79

1979 - 81

Canada

0.8

0.5

0.7

0.6

0.6

UK

0.1

0.3

1.1

0.9

2.9

US

0.5

0.2

1.1

0.2

0.6

1 World Development Report 1986 World Bank.
2
The Remaking of Work, David Cuttlebuck and Roy Hill, 1981
3
Paths to Paradise Andre Gorz, London 1983.
4
American Labour Sourcebook, by Bernard and Susan Rifkin.
5
Working at Leisure, Barry Sherman, Methuen.
6
Surviving in the City, Harriet Rosenberg, Oxfam Canada. These are very conservative statistics for an area that is difficult to gather accurate statistics for.
7
The Future of Work, Charles Handy, London 1984.
8
'Worklife' Magazine, Nov 1984.
9
Occupational Hazards Journal, June 1984.
10
Industrial Relations Journal, Fall 1982.
11
Op. Cit. No. 2
12
Reversing the Trend Toward Early Retirement, Robert L Clark and David T. Barker.

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