An Occupational Perspective
Edited by Werner Eichhorst and Paul Marx
Chapter 9: Non-standard employment across occupations in the United States: the role of replaceability and labour market flexibility
While the United States labour market is widely considered the most flexible in the industrialized world, the standard employment relationship still constrains employers in various ways. And even if employers welcome such constraints to retain some workers, non-standard employment offers a channel through which to realize further flexibility for other workers. Understanding trends in non-standard employment therefore means drawing attention to the interest and ability of employers to break with the standard employment contract. This chapter charts developments in non-standard employment and assesses both their determinants and the consequences for transitions into more stable forms of employment. The types of non-standard work assessed in this chapter include part-time, temporary work, temporary help agency work, contract agency work, and on-call work. Non-standard employment in the United States is less prevalent than in other countries, which is largely the result of the low level of employment protection. Nevertheless, as elsewhere, levels of non-standard work have increased since the 1950s, primarily as a result of heightened economic competition, the rise of the knowledge economy, and a political shift to the right (Kalleberg 2009; Koch and Fritz 2013). Many types of non-standard work are more common among workers that are more easily replaced or less unionized, although there are notable exceptions.
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