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Employment and wage changes of families from CE Survey data.

Employment and wage changes of families from CE Survey data

Recent data indicate an increase in real per capita income and a decrease in the average weekly hours worked by nonsupervisory employees.1 These trends would seem to imply an increase in household welfare, gross of taxes. However, labor force participation of wives has increased, implying a corresponding increase in average weekly hours worked per household.

A recent study of these issues compared market employment and wage and price changes experienced by households in the 1972 and 1980 Consumer Expenditure Interview Surveys.2 Renter households, comprising a husband, wife, and children, if any, were grouped by race (white, nonwhite) and household type (by age of children). The study was limited to renter households because of problems in constructing commodity price indexes at the disaggregate (household) level. Specifically, data on owner estimates of the rental value of their residences are lacking for the 1980 sample.3 The Consumer Expenditure (CE) Survey provided data on market employment status, occupation, and earned income of each household member. Current Population Survey data on median weekly earnings of full-time workers by occupation were used to construct an index of wage changes from 1972 to 1980.

Table 1 shows the market employment rates of the households in each demographic group.4 Data are shown separately for husbands and wives in each of three employment status classifications (not working, working part time, working full time), and by household type. For both whites and nonwhites, the greatest proportion of husbands who worked full time were in "young' families (oldest child under age 6) and "middle' families (oldest child aged 6 to 17) in both the 1972 and 1980 samples. The proportion of husbands who worked part time was less than that of wives who worked part time. In general, larger proportions of working wives (both full- and part-time) appeared in the young and middle family groups. The largest proportions of nonworking wives were in the "older' family groups (oldest child over age 17) in both 1972 and 1980. Compared with the 1972 sample, more wives were working in 1980 in all family categories, except older white families. Interestingly, the greatest increases in the proportion of working wives were in the young and middle family types of both racial groups, that is, those families with greater household responsibilities.

The rudimentary indexes of occupational wage changes between 1972 and 1980 are shown below:

Wages and salaries increased most quickly for farm workers, operatives, craftworkers, transport operatives, and nonfarm workers. The lowest rates of change occurred for private household and other service workers.5 Grouping these occupational categories by their relative indexes of wage change provides the following categorization.

In table 2, the working husbands and wives in the 1972 and 1980 sample households are disaggregated into these broader occupational categories. Most of the working husbands were employed in blue-collar occupations with above-average wage increases, while the wives tended to work in white-collar (average wage increases) and service (low increases) occupations. However, in many of the household categories, more wives were working in the blue-collar group in the 1980 sample than in the 1972 sample.

Because the Consumer Expenditure Survey is now conducted on a continuing basis, further research on family welfare is planned and will focus on the effects of changes in the family's market labor, earned income, expenditures, and prices.

1 See, for example, Paul Ryscavage, "Reconciling divergent trends in real income,' Monthly Labor Review, July 1986, pp. 24-28. Historical data on average weekly hours are contained in Employment and Earnings, a monthly publication of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2 See Mary F. Kokoski, "Indices of household welfare and the value of leisure time,' The Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming. For more information on the Consumer Expenditure Interview Survey, see The Consumer Expenditure Survey, 1980-81, Bulletin 2225 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1985); and Michael Carlson, "The 1972-73 Consumer Expenditure Survey,' Monthly Labor Review, December 1974, pp. 16-23.

3 These reported estimates are used to calculate the expenditure weight for the consumption of housing services under the rental equivalence approach in the Consumer Price Index. The sample also includes only households in which neither husband nor wife was retired or over age 60.

4 This measure of labor force participation does not correspond to the official BLS statistical series on labor force participation, which is produced from different data by other procedures.

5 These indexes of wage change cannot be used to compare welfare across occupational groups because the base levels of wage and salary payments differ across these groups.

Table: 1. Market employment rates of renter families from 1972 and 1980 Consumer Expenditure Surveys

Table: 2. Occupational distribution of renter families from the 1972 and 1980 Consumer Expenditure Surveys

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Title Annotation:Consumer Expenditure Interview Survey
Author:Kokoski, Mary F.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Feb 1, 1987
Previous Article:Moonlighting: a key to differences in measuring employment growth.
Next Article:Occupational wages in textile manufacturing, June 1985.

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