Analyzes Massachusetts’ labor market problems in 2012 to 2013 with comparisons to data from the last decade.

“A serious understanding of the labor market problems of Massachusetts and U.S. residents requires going well beyond the official unemployment statistics to include problems of underemployment, malemployment, and other measures of labor underutilization. It also requires going well beyond the average number and incidence of such problems to include a careful examination of the distribution of such labor market problems among educational attainment and household income groups in the state. This paper [analyzes labor force data obtained from the Current Population Survey and] is devoted to such a more rigorous analysis of the size and incidence of alternative labor market problems among Massachusetts workers in 2012-13, with comparisons dating back to 2000. [The authors] show that combined labor underutilization problems among state workers have increased by a substantial degree over the past 12-13 years and that the distribution of such labor market problems has become far more unequal across key socioeconomic groups of workers, as represented by their educational attainment and household income group. These widening socioeconomic disparities in labor market problems have contributed in an important way to the growth of earnings and income inequality in [the] state over the past decade” (p.2).

“The main objectives of this research report are to provide estimates of four labor underutilization measures (the unemployment rate, the underemployment rate, the hidden unemployment rate, and the labor underutilization rate) for Massachusetts workers and for those in educational attainment groups, household income groups, and combinations of educational attainment/household income groups... Disparities in the incidence of each of the four labor market problems across these educational attainment/household income groups [are] presented and highlighted. The sizes of these disparities in labor market outcomes across socioeconomic groups are enormous today and appear to be historically unprecedented, far higher than those prevailing in the 1990s and especially at the peak of the state labor market boom in 2000” (p. 6).

Full publication title: The Labor Market Problems of Massachusetts’ Workers in the Recovery from the Great Recession: The Great Socioeconomic Divergence

Major Findings & Recommendations

Key findings identified in the labor market problems for Massachusetts’ were identified as: “The lowest income workers were nearly seven times more likely to be unemployed than the most affluent group of workers in 2012-2013” (p.8). “The least well educated workers [in Massachusetts] were 6 times as likely to be unemployed as the best educated group of workers” (p.9). “The state’s less well educated, low income workers faced unemployment rates equivalent to those of the U.S. in the Great Depression of the 1930s… while the state’s best educated and most affluent workers operated in a super full-employment environment” (p.9). “Underemployment rates of workers in the lowest income category were eight times as high as those in the most affluent groups of families” (p.11). “The least well educated, low income group of workers was 25 times as likely as the most affluent, best educated workers of the state to be underemployed in 2012-2013” (p.12). “Those adults without a high school diploma were 9 times as likely to be a member of the hidden unemployed as their fellow residents with a Master’s or higher degree” (p.14). Lastly, the great socioeconomic divergence is apparent through the following findings: “The least well educated, low income workers in Massachusetts were characterized by an underutilization rate that was 18 times higher than that of their best educated peers from the state’s most affluent families. The absolute size of the gap (in percentage points) between the labor underutilization rates of these two groups rose from 23 percentage points in 2000 to 52 percentage points in 2012-2013. Labor market problems are today characterized by a massive degree of socioeconomic inequality” (p. 20). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)