12 Million Salaried Workers Are Missing

Daniel S. Hamermesh

NBER Working Paper No. 8016
Issued in November 2000
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies Program

Evidence from Current Population Surveys through 1997, various cohorts of the National Longitudinal Surveys, and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics suggests that the fraction of American employees paid salaries stayed constant from the late 1960s through the late 1970s, but fell slightly thereafter through the late 1990s. Accounting for the changing industrial, occupational, demographic and economic structure of the work force shows that the fraction was 9 percentage points below what would have been expected in the late 1970s. This shortfall is not explained by growth in the temporary help industry, by institutional changes in overtime or wage payment regulation, by the increasing openness of American labor and product markets, nor by convergence of nonwage aspects of hourly and salaried employment. A theory of worker commitment and employers' monitoring costs explains the determination of pay status. While monitoring costs may have changed consistent with the decline in salaried work, only declining worker commitment is also consistent with an observed relative decline in earnings of hourly workers. Various waves of the General Social Surveys provide direct evidence that workers' commitment/trustworthiness declined during this period. Data from several cohorts of men in the NLS imply that there was a detrimental change in the work attitudes of young men in the lower half of the distribution of early-career job satisfaction, a conclusion that is bolstered by the relative decline in job tenure among hourly-paid workers.

download in pdf format
   (272 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8016

Published: Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2002. "12 Million Salaried Workers are Missing," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(4), pages 649-666, July. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Lahey w11435 Age, Women, and Hiring: An Experimental Study
Stevenson and Wolfers w10175 Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress
Dharmapala, Foley, and Forbes w15023 Watch What I Do, Not What I Say: The Unintended Consequences of the Homeland Investment Act
Hamermesh w9440 Routine
Kunreuther and Michel-Kerjan w12821 Climate Change, Insurability of Large-scale Disasters and the Emerging Liability Challenge
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us