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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs Persons with Disabilities and Demands of the Contemporary Labor Market Edward Yelin, Ph.D., and Laura Trupin, MPH1 Disability insurance programs, whether public or private, require an assessment of the ability of persons with disabilities to function in jobs. Although some of the problems inherent in such assessments—determining severity of illness, ascertaining physical and cognitive impairment—were noted early in the twentieth century with respect to private disability insurance programs and workers’ compensation (Starr, 1982; Stone, 1984; Berkowitz, 1987; Derthick, 1990; Mashaw and Reno, 1996), some are new and reflect changes in the economy. The procedures that were implemented to assess work capacity in most disability insurance programs, including the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, reflect an economy dominated by goods production, physical labor, hierarchical organization, and long job tenures (Yelin, 1992); a population thought to be at risk for work loss primarily because of the chronic diseases of aging (Chirikos, 1993; Stapleton, et al., 1994); and the view that most such conditions would lead, inexorably, to functional decline without the prospect for improvement. This paper describes some of the changes in the labor market that have occurred over the last several decades, shows the extent to which the 1 Edward Yelin is a Professor of Medicine and Health Policy and Director of the Arthritis Research Group at the University of California at San Francisco. Laura Trupin is a Senior Research Associate for the Institute for Health and Aging.
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs labor market experience of persons with disabilities reflects these trends, and speculates about the demands that are likely to be placed on workers in the next several decades. LABOR MARKET DYNAMICS: 1960 TO THE PRESENT Overview of Changes in the Labor Market Although it would be hazardous to predict what the labor market will be like in the distant future, several of the most important trends have been unfolding for several decades and can be expected to continue in the years to come (Bell, 1973; Piore and Sabel, 1984; Hirshhorn, 1988; Levy, 1998; Wilson, 1997). These trends include a relative shift from goods-producing occupations and industries to the distribution of services, the increasing demand for highly skilled and highly trained labor and the erosion of demand for those with less skill and training, the emergence of new ways of accomplishing work within the firm, and the emergence of alternative work arrangements throughout the economy. Some of these trends are relatively easy to quantify, for example, the growth of jobs in services. Some are more difficult both to measure and to evaluate, for example, the growth of contingent employment arrangements (Belous, 1989; Polivka, 1996), the putative erosion of job security (Nardone et al., 1997), and the flattening of workplace hierarchies (Osterman, 1988). Also, many of the changes are not quite as dramatic as some analysts claim: much service work is physically demanding and much of it, regardless of the physical demand, is repetitious. All, however, are difficult to translate into a simple set of instructions for assessing functional capacity for work. Indeed, if there is a message to emerge from an analysis of the trends in the labor market, it is that in the contemporary economy, the division of tasks within and among jobs is growing increasingly complex. As work demands change, the most important characteristic of those capable of thriving may be the ability to do multiple tasks in an overlapping and constantly evolving series of relationships and to be able to adapt to new responsibilities. The problem facing those assessing capacity for work among persons with disabilities is a daunting one: how to assess an individual’s capacity to do a complex mix of tasks now and to learn a new mix later. Dynamics in Labor Force Participation The 1950s and 1960s are viewed by some as the halcyon era in the U.S. economy, with high growth rates sustaining unprecedented increases in
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs the standard of living, allowing most families to survive on one income, and in turn, reinforcing the social ethic of the time that women should not work outside the home (Levy, 1998). In 1960, 66.8 percent of the working-age population was in the labor force (Table 1). The overall labor force participation rate increased by more than 18 percent in the interim, reaching almost 80 percent as of 1999. Gender This overall increase in labor force participation rates masks substantial differences by gender and age. Among all working-age men, labor force participation rates declined by more than 7 percent, but men age 55 to 64 experienced an even steeper decline, just under 22 percent. Conversely, among all working-age women, labor force participation rates rose by 68.9 percent, from 42.7 percent in 1960 to 72.1 percent in 1999. Among women age 25 to 34, labor force participation rates more than doubled, from 36.0 percent in 1960 to 76.4 percent in 1999. Thus, the overall increase in labor force participation rates represents the net effect of a decline among men, particularly older men, and an increase among women, particularly younger women. TABLE 1 Labor Force Participation Rates (percent), by Gender and Age, United States, 1960–1999 Year Gender and Age 1960 1970 1980 1990 1996 1999 Percent Change, 1960–1999 Percent All persons, 18–64 66.8 69.2 74.0 78.1 78.7 79.0 18.3 Men 18–64 93.2 90.2 88.1 87.6 86.4 86.1 −7.6 55–64 86.8 83.0 72.1 67.8 67.0 67.9 −21.8 Women 18–64 42.7 50.2 60.9 69.0 71.3 72.1 68.9 25–34 36.0 45.0 65.5 73.5 75.2 76.4 112.2 SOURCE: Jacobs and Zhang, 1998; U.S. Department of Labor, 1999a.
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs TABLE 2 Labor Force Participation Rate (percent), by Race and Gender, United States, 1972–1999 Year Race and Gender 1972 1980 1990 1996 1999 Percent Change, 1972–1999 Percent Whites 69.5 74.6 79.0 79.8 79.8 14.8 Men 90.1 89.1 88.7 87.8 87.5 −2.9 Women 50.4 60.8 69.5 71.9 72.2 43.3 African Americans 68.6 70.3 73.1 73.5 75.4 9.9 Men 83.8 80.9 80.5 77.9 77.8 −7.2 Women 56.1 61.7 67.1 69.8 73.4 30.8 SOURCE: Jacobs and Zhang, 1998; U.S. Department of Labor, 1999a. Race Race plays a part in labor market dynamics and would appear to interact with gender.2 Over the last 27 years, labor force participation rates increased among all working-age whites by 14.8 percent, but the increase among all working-age African Americans was only 9.9 percent (Table 2). The decrease in labor force participation rates among all working-age white men was less than half that experienced by African-American men (2.9 versus 7.2 percent, respectively), while the increase among white women was far larger than that among African-American women (43.3 versus 30.8 percent, respectively). Between 1972 and 1999, the gap in labor force participation rates between African-American and white men grew, from 6.3 percentage points in the former year to 9.7 percentage points in the latter. In 1972, labor force participation rates of African-American women were higher than those of white women (56.1 and 50.4 percent, respectively), but by 1999 the groups had virtually identical labor force participation rates (73.4 and 72.2 percent, respectively). Age Another factor affecting the labor market over the last several decades—and one likely to have an even more profound impact in the years 2 Prior to 1972, published labor market series combined all non-Caucasians into one category. Accordingly, we report racial differences in labor force participation from 1972 to 1999.
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs to come—has been the dramatic change in the age structure of society as the baby boomers age (Table 3). The proportion of the population 18 to 34 years of age rose substantially between 1960 and 1980 but has since fallen, while the proportion 35 to 44 rose between 1980 and 1999, and the proportion 45 to 54 began a precipitous increase during the 1990s, to be followed in the decade to come by a substantial rise in the proportion of individuals 55 and over. The importance of the aging of the population for the labor market can be seen in Table 4. In 1999, more than 80 percent of people 20 to 34, 35 to 44, and 45 to 54 years of age were in the labor force. In each case, these percentages had risen over time as the labor market accommodated the substantial increases in labor force participation rates among women. The increase in the labor force participation rates were all the more remark- TABLE 3 Age Structure (percent) of United States Population, 1960–1999 Year Age 1960 1970 1980 1990 1996 1999 Percent 18–34 21.6 24.4 29.6 28.2 24.5 23.5 35–44 13.4 11.3 11.3 15.1 16.4 16.4 45–54 11.4 11.4 10.1 10.1 12.2 13.1 55–64 8.6 9.1 9.6 8.5 8.1 8.6 65 or older 9.2 9.8 11.3 12.5 12.8 12.7 SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1984, 1997, 2000. TABLE 4 Labor Force Participation Rates (percent), by Age, United States, 1960–1999 Year Age 1960 1970 1980 1990 1996 1999 Percent 20–34 65.3 69.5 78.9 81.8 81.9 82.4 35–44 69.4 73.1 80.0 85.2 84.8 84.9 45–54 72.1 73.5 74.9 80.7 82.1 82.6 55–64 60.9 61.8 55.7 55.9 57.9 59.3 65 or older 20.8 17.0 12.5 11.8 12.1 12.3 SOURCE: Jacobs and Zhang, 1998; U.S. Department of Labor, 1999a.
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs able given that the absolute number of young and middle-aged workers was increasing because of the baby boom generation. Thus, the labor market accommodated an increasing percentage of a substantially larger number of persons. However, labor force participation rates are much lower among persons age 55 to 64 than among those age 45 to 54, and they declined among persons in the former group throughout most of the 1970s and 1980s. The decrease in labor force participation rates among persons age 55 to 64 before 1990 occurred because more people in this group chose to leave work prior to the ages when Social Security eligibility begins (62) and reaches its maximum (currently 65). Labor force participation rates are lower among persons age 55 to 64 at any one point because persons in this group face higher rates of displacement from their jobs and because the prevalence of health problems associated with aging begin to affect a substantial number of people at these ages. As a result of the increased number of persons who are 55 to 64, a higher proportion of the working-age population will be at risk for onset of the chronic diseases of aging, putting increased pressure on disability compensation programs. On the other hand, among persons age 55 to 64, labor force participation rates have increased over the last decade, suggesting that a strong labor market affects the propensity of persons in this group to leave the labor force. Education As seen in Table 1, the proportion of working-age adults in the labor force rose substantially between 1970 and 1999. The increase in labor force participation rates affected all but those individuals who did not finished high school (Table 5). Thus, labor force participation rates increased among high school graduates by 11.3 percent, among those with some college by 12.5 percent, and among those with a college degree or more, by 6.4 percent. As a result, by 1999, labor force participation rates among college graduates were 40 percent higher than among persons with less than a high school education. Since 1960, the proportion of the adult population with at least a high school degree has more than doubled (from 41.1 to 83.4 percent), and the proportion with four or more years of college has more than tripled (from 7.7 to 25.2 percent) (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000, p. 157). Nevertheless, a substantial fraction of the cohorts entering the ages of highest risk for work disability have less than a high school education, including about 12 percent of those now ages 35 to 44 and 45 to 54, and more than 18 percent of those now age 55 to 64 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000, p. 158). These individuals may face a difficult time maintaining a toehold in the labor market. In addition, about a third of these cohorts (33.9, 31.7, and 36.9
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs TABLE 5 Labor Force Participation Rates (percent), by Educational Attainment, United States, 1970–1999 Year Education 1970 1980 1990 1996 1999 Percent Change, 1970–1999 Percent Less than high school 65.5 60.7 60.7 60.2 62.7 −4.3 High school graduate 70.2 74.2 78.2 77.9 78.1 11.3 Some college 73.8 79.5 83.3 83.7 83.0 12.5 College grad or more 82.3 86.1 88.4 87.8 87.6 6.4 Gradienta 1.26 1.42 1.46 1.46 1.40 aGradient from highest to lowest level of education. SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1997, 2000. percent, respectively) have no more than a high school degree. Although the labor force participation rate for high school graduates has increased by 11.3 percent overall since 1970, it has been relatively stable since 1990. If the labor market continues to tighten in the next few years, labor force participation rates among high school graduates may begin to fall. Dynamics in Employment Characteristics There is little doubt that there has been a fundamental shift in the kind of work done, as reflected in the change in the distribution of occupations and industries. However, analysts disagree on the degree to which there has been a corresponding shift in how work is done. Osterman (1988) noted that throughout much of this century, firms had two kinds of employees: a salaried workforce paid to design and monitor work processes, who were given relative autonomy to carry out their work and had security of employment (“white-collar” workers), and an hourly wage workforce paid to implement these work processes with little discretion over how work was done, who were retained only when the demand for products justified continued employment (“blue-collar” workers). Osterman observed that more recently, many firms were melding the two kinds of jobs: bringing the expertise of those involved in production of goods and services into the design of work processes, while reducing the security of employment among the white-collar workforce.
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs The signposts for the changes described by Osterman include flattened workplace hierarchies, broadened and variable work tasks for each job, reduced job tenure, increased use of part-time and temporary workers, alternative work arrangements, and higher rates of job displacement. There is strong evidence in the work disability literature that providing flexible working conditions and job autonomy reduces the probability that an individual with an impairment will stop working (Yelin et al., 1980). Indeed, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) mandates the provision of such accommodations to help sustain employment (West, 1991). The model underlying research on the effects of accommodation on employment, as well as the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA, is that increased autonomy to perform an existing mix of job demands in the context of a long-term relationship with an employer will improve job prospects. However, it is not known how well persons with disabilities can function when asked to flexibly shift among job tasks and work groups, especially with decreased levels of job security. Ongoing data collection efforts at the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) measure some of the shifts in working conditions—job tenure, frequency of part-time and temporary employment, alternative work arrangements, and rates of job displacement. They do not capture changes in the nature of workplace hierarchies and in the mix of work tasks for each job. Obtaining such information will be critical in assessing the functional demands of work and, therefore, in assessing the capacity of persons with disabilities to function on the job. Industries Table 6 shows the change in the number of employees and share of nonagricultural employment among industries since 1960. It provides information on the most tangible signpost of the change in the nature of work. In 1960, the goods-producing sectors of the economy (mining and construction, and manufacturing) accounted for 6.7 and 31.0 percent of employment, respectively. Since then, the share of employment accounted for by mining and construction has decreased by about one-fifth, and the share accounted for by manufacturing has decreased by more than half (53.9 percent). Indeed, at a time when total employment more than doubled (datum not in table), the absolute number of manufacturing workers increased by only 9.5 percent, from 16.8 million in 1960 to 18.4 million in 1999. Thus, as of 1999, the goods-producing sectors of the economy accounted for less than one-fifth of total employment. Concurrently, there was substantial growth in the share of employment accounted for by the finance, insurance, and real estate sectors (20.4 percent, net of a decline from 6.1 to 5.9 percent between 1990 and 1999)
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs TABLE 6 Number of Employees and Shares of Nonagricultural Employment, by Industry, United States, 1960–1999 Year Industry 1960 1970 1980 1990 1996 1999 Percent Change, 1960–1999 Numbers (millions) Mining and construction 3.6 4.2 5.4 5.8 6.0 6.8 88.9 Manufacturing 16.8 19.4 20.0 19.1 18.2 18.4 9.5 Transportation, utilities, and communications 4.0 4.5 5.2 5.8 6.4 6.8 70.0 Wholesale and retail trade 11.4 15.0 20.3 25.8 28.2 29.8 161.4 Finance, insurance, and real estate 2.6 3.7 5.2 6.7 7.0 7.6 192.3 Services 7.4 11.6 17.9 27.9 34.4 39.0 427.0 Public administration 8.4 12.6 16.2 18.3 19.5 20.2 140.5 Percent in Nonagricultural Employment Mining and construction 6.7 6.0 5.9 5.3 5.0 5.3 −20.9 Manufacturing 31.0 27.3 22.4 17.4 15.3 14.3 −53.9 Transportation, utilities, and communications 7.4 6.4 5.7 5.3 5.3 5.3 −28.4 Wholesale and retail trade 21.0 21.3 22.5 23.5 23.6 23.1 10.0 Finance, insurance, and real estate 4.9 5.1 5.7 6.1 5.8 5.9 20.4 Services 13.6 16.3 19.8 25.5 28.7 30.3 122.8 Public administration 15.4 17.7 18.0 16.7 16.3 15.7 1.9a aPercent change from 1980 to 1999 = −12.8%. SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1981, 1997, 2000. and by the service industry (122.8 percent). Primarily because of growth occurring prior to 1980, the share of total employment accounted for by the public administration sector increased by 1.9 percent; since 1980, however, its share has declined by 12.8 percent. Because the service sector is heterogeneous, encompassing, for example, those who work in private households, physicians’ offices, engineering firms, and home cleaning services, it is far more informative to
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs study the employment dynamics within the components of the overall services category. The share of employment in all but the personal services component expanded between 1970 and 1999, with business and repair, entertainment and recreation, and professional services growing by 263.2, 100.0, and 44.8 percent, respectively (Table 7). By 1999, the absolute number of workers in professional services exceeded 32 million, almost a quarter of all non-farm employment. Within the business and repair services component, the absolute number of workers in personnel supply firms (including temporary employment agencies) increased more than fourfold between 1980 and 1999, while the number in the computer and data processing services fields increased more than ninefold (data on personnel supply and computer and data processing fields not in table) (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000, p. 420). Occupations The change in the share of employment among occupations reflects the shift in the overall economy from the production of goods to the production and distribution of services (Table 8). Thus, the share of employment in professional specialty and managerial occupations; techni- TABLE 7 Number of Employees and Shares of Nonagricultural Employment in Various Service Industries, United States, 1970–1999 Year Service Industry 1970 1980 1990 1996 1999 Percent Change, 1970–1999 Number (millions) Business and repair 1.4 3.9 7.5 8.1 9.0 542.9 Personal 4.3 3.8 4.7 4.4 4.5 4.7 Entertainment and recreation 0.7 1.1 1.5 2.4 2.6 271.4 Professional 12.9 19.9 25.4 30.1 32.4 151.2 Percent in Nonagricultural Employment Business and repair 1.9 4.0 6.5 6.6 6.9 263.2 Personal 5.7 4.0 4.1 3.5 3.4 −40.4 Entertainment and recreation 1.0 1.1 1.3 1.9 2.0 100.0 Professional 17.2 20.7 21.9 24.4 24.9 44.8 SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1997, 2000.
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs TABLE 8 Number of Employees and Shares of Employment, by Occupation, United States, 1960–1999 Year Occupation 1960 1970 1980 1990 1996 1999 Percent Change, 1960–1999 Numbers (millions) Professional specialty and managerial occupations 14.6 19.4 26.5 30.6 36.5 40.5 177.4 Technical, sales, and administrative workers 14.0 18.6 24.3 36.9 37.7 38.9 177.9 Service workers 8.0 9.7 13.0 16.0 17.2 17.9 123.8 Precision production and craft workers 8.6 10.2 12.5 13.7 13.6 14.6 69.8 Operatives, fabricators, and non-farm laborers 15.6 17.6 18.4 18.2 18.2 18.2 16.7 Farming and fishing occupations 5.2 3.3 2.7 3.5 3.6 3.4 −34.6 Percent Share of Employment Professional specialty and managerial occupations 22.1 24.7 27.3 25.8 28.8 30.3 37.1 Technical, sales, and administrative workers 21.3 23.6 25.0 31.1 29.7 29.2 37.1 Service workers 12.2 12.4 13.3 13.5 13.6 13.4 9.8 Precision production and craft workers 13.0 12.9 12.9 11.6 10.7 10.9 −16.2 Operatives, fabricators, and non-farm laborers 23.6 22.4 18.9 15.2 14.4 13.6 −42.4 Farming and fishing occupations 7.8 4.0 2.8 2.9 2.8 2.6 −66.7 SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1981, 1997, 2000.
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs TABLE 14 Percentage of Jobholders Working Part-Time for Economic, Noneconomic, and All Reasons, Among Persons with and Without Disabilities, United States, 1981–1999 Year Reason 1981 1985 1990 1995 1999 Percent Change, 1981–1999 Percent All reasons Persons with disabilities 27.9 28.2 33.8 36.9 36.0 29.0 Persons without disabilities 16.7 17.1 16.5 16.7 15.2 −9.0 Economic Persons with disabilities 6.3 7.9 9.1 5.0 5.5 −12.7 Persons without disabilities 4.3 5.2 4.1 3.6 2.5 −41.9 Noneconomic Persons with disabilities 21.6 20.3 24.7 31.9 30.5 41.2 Persons without disabilities 12.4 11.9 12.4 13.1 12.7 2.4 SOURCE: Authors’ analyses of Current Population Survey Annual Demographic Supplements for 1982, 1986, 1991, 1996, and 2000. Terms of Employment Of the measures of the terms of employment reviewed with respect to the entire labor force, above, none is available on an ongoing basis from the monthly CPS or the annual march supplement to the CPS. Instead, the measures—tenure, contingency, flexibility, alternative work arrangements, and work at home—are not collected routinely and, when collected, are part of surveys in which respondents are not asked to report disability status. Because of the lack of consistent data on terms of employment among persons with and without disabilities from the Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys, we report here the results of a comprehensive survey of health and employment among California adults, the 1999 California Work and Health Survey (Table 15). In general, persons with disabilities did not differ systematically from those without in the working conditions they reported. On an unadjusted basis, persons with disabilities were more likely to report working at home. After adjustment for differences in age and gender, persons with disabilities reported significantly shorter job tenures and were significantly more likely to report holding their jobs for only one or five years than persons without disabilities. Of note, the two groups did not differ
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs TABLE 15 Employment Characteristics Among Persons with and Without Disabilities, with and Without Adjustments for Age and Gender, California, 1999 Unadjusted Age and Gender Adjusted Employment Characteristic All Persons Without Disability With Disability Without Disability With Disability All-employed, age 18–64, n 1,220 1,099 121 — — Self-employed (percent) 13.6 13.2 17.4 15.1 18.3 Working day shift (percent) 77.5 77.9 73.6 79.8 73.6 Flexible hours (percent) 55.2 55.6 52.1 55.5 52.8 Work at home all the time (percent) 5.9 5.4 9.9a 6.3 10.2 Contingent employment (percent)b 10.7 10.5 13.2 9.8 12.7 Not permanent job (percent) 8.8 8.6 9.9 8.3 10.0 Temp agency employed (percent) 2.9 2.6 5.0 2.5 4.6 Job tenure (percent with years on job): One year or less 24.2 23.5 30.6 — — >1 to 5 years 34.8 34.8 33.9 — — 6 to 10 years 17.9 18.2 14.9 — — More than 10 years 22.9 23.1 20.7 — — Less than 5 years on job (percent) 53.1 52.4 59.5 45.9 56.8a Less than 1 year on job (percent) 19.3 18.7 24.8 15.7 24.2a Job tenure, mean — 6.8 6.2 8.0 6.5a Psychological characteristics of jobs Required to learn new things 89.5 88.9 94.2 89.1 94.6 Has little freedom to decide how to do work 25.2 25.2 24.8 23.9 24.9 Makes a lot of decisions on one’s own 82.0 82.0 82.6 83.4 83.0 Has enough time to get job done 77.5 77.8 75.2 76.8 74.6 Required to work very fast without breaks 43.0 43.4 38.8 42.6 38.9 High-demand, low-control jobc 14.7 14.9 11.6 11.7 14.6 ap < .05. bContingent employment includes nonpermanent workers and temporary agency employees. cA job is considered to be high demand and low control if the respondent states that he or she has little freedom to decide how to do the job, and either does not have time to get the job done or is required to work very fast without breaks. SOURCE: Authors’ analyses of the California Work and Health Survey.
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs significantly in the percentage reporting being self-employed, working a day shift, having flexible hours of employment, and having contingent employment, or in the psychological characteristics of jobs. Job Displacement and Accession The biannual Bureau of Labor Statistics survey used to establish the rate of job displacement does not include a measure of disability status. Accordingly, we use the California Work and Health Survey to analyze differences between persons with and without disabilities in rates of job loss (Table 16). In contrast to the findings with respect to working conditions, persons with disabilities reported much higher rates of job displacement than those without; adjustment for age and gender did not alter this finding. Thus, persons with disabilities were almost twice as likely to report job loss in the year prior to the survey as those without (17.0 versus 9.6 percent). Such persons were more than 70 percent more likely to report job loss in the three years prior to the survey (33.0 versus 19.1 percent). Using the federal government’s strict definition of job displacement—job loss in the past three years among persons 20 and over who had held the job for three or more years—persons with disabilities were more than 75 percent more likely to have met this criterion than those without disabili- TABLE 16 Involuntary Job Loss Among Persons with and Without Disabilities, with and Without Adjustments for Age and Gender, California, 1999 Unadjusted Age and Gender Adjusted Involuntary Job Loss All Persons Without Disability With Disability Without Disability With Disability All persons, age 18–64, employed within past 3 years 1,503 1,316 188 — — Job loss in past year 10.5 9.6 17.0a 8.6 17.2a Job loss in past 3 years 20.8 19.1 33.0a 17.6 33.0a Displacedb in past 3 years 7.0 6.4 11.4a 6.8 11.5a ap < .05 bDefinition of displacement used by the federal government: person aged 20 or over, with at least 3 years’ tenure on job. SOURCE: Authors’ analyses of the California Work and Health Survey.
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs ties (11.4 versus 6.4 percent). Using the longitudinal component of the California Work and Health Survey, we estimated the proportion of persons with and without disabilities who were not working in one year who had become employed by the time we reinterviewed them a year later. Persons with disabilities were about 61 percent as likely to enter employment as persons without disabilities (job entrance rates were 20.3 and 37.9 percent, respectively) (data on job entrance not in tables). SUMMARY OF LABOR MARKET DYNAMICS This review of overall trends in the labor market and of trends affecting persons with disabilities has yielded a partial description of how things are, not how they might be in the years to come. However, the major trends in employment—the decline in labor force participation among older men, the increase among younger women, the shift from manufacturing to service industries and occupations, and the emergence of new terms of employment—have been unfolding for several decades, and with the possible exception of the decline in labor force participation among older men and the end of the increase in labor force participation among women, there are no major disjunctures forecast for the remainder of these trends in the years to come (Bowman, 1997). More importantly, this review is a description of whether persons with disabilities do work and, if so, how and where, not of whether they can work. However, the evidence presented in this paper is consistent with the notion that given the appropriate economic climate, a substantial number of persons with disabilities will enter the labor market and then maintain employment. Because a relatively small proportion of persons with disabilities do work and the exact proportion shifts with changes in the state of the labor market, there would appear to be a reasonable number who could work in the appropriate circumstances. What is preventing them from doing so? Yelin and Trupin (2000) recently completed an analysis of the factors affecting transitions into and out of employment among persons with and without disabilities. For persons with disabilities, demographic characteristics were the principal factors affecting the probability of entering employment, with those 18 to 24 years of age six times more likely to do so than those 55 to 64 years of age and with whites 40 percent more likely to enter jobs than nonwhites. Other social and demographic factors related to job entrance among persons with disabilities included marital status, household type, education, residential environment, and baseline household income; gender, Hispanic ethnicity, and region of the country were not associated with job entrance in this group. Demographic and social factors associated with maintaining employment included age, race, gender, marital status, edu-
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs cation, region, and baseline household income; Hispanic ethnicity, residential environment, and household type were not associated with maintaining employment among persons with disabilities. Interestingly, the principal work-related factor affecting whether persons with disabilities maintained employment was the industry in which they worked, whereas the principal work-related factor affecting whether persons without disabilities did so was their occupation. This suggests that the probability that persons with disabilities will be able to keep working after the onset of impairment is determined to a large extent by the welfare of the industries in which they work, rather than their own characteristics. The welfare of persons without disabilities, in contrast, is tied to a greater extent to their personal background. Expanding industries will find a way to accommodate the needs of their workers with disabilities, level of impairment notwithstanding. Thus, the question of how to assess functional capacity for work cannot be asked abstractly. Instead, it must be asked assuming a strong demand for labor and the presence of reasonable accommodation, as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (West, 1991). Nevertheless, even when these conditions are met, many individuals will not be working, suggesting that it may be possible to describe a core set of functional requirements that apply even when the demand for labor is strong. Although the capacity to “tote that barge and lift that bale” still applies to some jobs, increasingly the core competencies would appear to revolve around the ability to communicate, concentrate, interact with others, learn new tasks, and be flexible in how and with whom work gets done (Osterman, 1988). This is true even when a job demands the capacity for toting and lifting, but it is especially true in the growth sectors of the economy in which the physical demands of work may be minimal. MEASURING FUNCTIONAL DEMANDS OF THE CONTEMPORARY AND FUTURE LABOR MARKETS O*Net6 (Occupational Information Network) has been developed under a contract from the Department of Labor to replace the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) as the principal way of assessing the functional demands of jobs (Peterson et al., 1996). The purpose of O*Net was twofold: (1) to create an on-line database of work requirements in order to provide job information in an accessible format and one that can be readily updated, and (2) to provide a listing of job characteristics that reflect the 6 This discussion is based in part on a discussion with our colleague Ms. Katie Maslow, but any errors of fact or interpretation are our own.
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs contemporary economy. The DOT characterized jobs on the basis of the complexity of dealing with data, people, and things. O*Net characterizes both the attributes of occupations and the characteristics of the people who fill each job. Data are collected on six separate dimensions: (1) experience requirements (training, experience, licensing); (2) worker requirements (functional skills, general knowledge, and education); (3) worker characteristics (abilities, interests, and work styles); (4) occupation characteristics (labor market information, occupational outlook, and wages); (5) occupational requirements (work activities, work context, and organizational context); and (6) occupation-specific information (knowledge required to do an occupation, occupational skills, and the specific tasks on the job). The data for O*Net derive from a survey of job analysts and from interviews with persons in each occupation (The latter source will include a greater number of characteristics than the former, but the data will be available later.). In both instances, respondents will be asked to report the level of each characteristic on a scale; the average level among all respondents for each characteristic will be disseminated. A thorough description of O*Net and of how it may be used is beyond the scope of this paper, as is a listing of its shortcomings with respect to assessment of the functional capacity of applicants for disability benefits. For the former, suffice it to state that O*Net has the capacity to capture the complexity of each job through the diversity of the dimensions measured and the heightened pace of change in the nature of each job. For the latter, suffice it to state that O*Net’s principal limitation is its reliance on the average level among respondents for each job characteristic, while those adjudicating applications for disability benefits need to assess minimal requirements on each such characteristic. However, in capturing the complexity of the modern job, O*Net solves one problem for those assessing capacity for work (providing a contemporary model of work), while raising another (providing no easy method to assess which among six dimensions and 300 specific characteristics are the essential functions of a job and which, therefore, are central to an assessment of functional capacity). Indeed, this conundrum is not unique to the situation facing those who would adjudicate applications for disability benefits. In assessing whether employers are in compliance with the employment requirements of the ADA, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is asked to assess whether an individual can perform a job’s essential function, but the law provides little guidance in how to determine what such a function is (Jones, 1991). If we are right that an increasing proportion of jobs involve complexity and dynamism in tasks, competencies, and relationships with colleagues, then it necessarily follows that a system to assess functional capacity must take this complexity into account today and incorporate the ability to measure—if not predict—changes in these char-
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs acteristics in the years to come. The jobs that can be reduced to one unvarying essential function may be those few of us want and, paradoxically, those that—because of their high levels of physical demand—few persons with disabilities can perform. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS Retrospective assessment of past attempts to predict the future of the labor market suggests that one should be humble in trying to project the shape of employment in the years to come. Many, if not most, of the predictions of the late 1950s and 1960s proved unfounded. At that time, many analysts saw automation as the principal threat to the labor market, with rising unemployment and de-skilling of jobs the necessary result of this trend. Today, we are concerned about the erosion of job security and we wonder how many of us can cope with the demands of the service economy (and even the manufacturing sector) for a flexible response to a varying set of tasks. However, recent projections concerning the nature of the labor market call some of our predictions about even the near future into question (Bowman, 1997). In the last several decades, the labor force has grown with the entrance of women into employment and the service sector has expanded. Attenuation of the former trend necessarily will occur: most of the women who could enter work have already done so. While the latter trend is expected to continue overall, some parts of the manufacturing sector are projected to expand, particularly industries related to exports and the manufacture of items requiring high levels of capital investment. Nevertheless, all projections for the future suggest that the premium paid to those with high levels of education will continue and that flexibility on the part of the worker will be of paramount importance. The fears of 40 years ago proved unfounded because the only model we had to work with was a mechanistic model of the production of goods. In that model, we believed it would be relatively easy to assess capacity for work. Most of those who would apply for disability benefits were blue-collar workers in the manufacturing sectors with degenerative, largely physical conditions of aging. The fears of today may be unfounded because the majority of tomorrow’s workers may function much better than our own generation in jobs with a complex and varying set of tasks and because we may learn to accommodate the needs of the minority of workers—those with cognitive and behavioral impairments—who cannot do well in this situation today. Just as the past generation was unable to predict what the world of work would be like in the year 2000, we cannot know with certainty what
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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs jobs will demand of us in the future. However, we have learned something: that any system put into place to assess the capacity for work must accommodate rapidly changing conditions. The visionary and all-encompassing criteria of today necessarily become the mechanistic ones of tomorrow unless we build in the capacity to change the criteria as quickly as the economy evolves, which in turn requires us to have in place a strong research infrastructure to understand the changes and to develop the tools to measure them. REFERENCES Bell D. 1973. The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting. New York: Basic Books. Belous R. 1989. The Contingent Economy: The Growth of the Temporary, Part-Time, and Subcontracted Workforce. Washington, DC: National Planning Association. Benson V, Marano M. 1998. Current estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, 1995. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 10(199). [Online]. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr10/101991.pdf. Berkowitz E. 1987. Disabled Policy: America’s Programs for the Handicapped. New York: Cambridge University Press. Bound J, Waidmann T. 2000. Accounting for the Recent Declines in Employment Rates Among the Working-Aged Disabled. Cambridge, Massachusetts: National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 7975. Bowman C. 1997. BLS projections to 2006: A summary. Monthly Labor Review 120(11):3–5. Braverman H. 1974. Labor and Monopoly Capital: the Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century. New York: Monthly Review Press. Burkhauser R, Daly M, Houtenville A. 2000. How Working Age People with Disabilities Fared Over the 1990s Business Cycle. Cornell University: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for Economic Research on Employment Policy for Persons with Disabilities. Chirikos T. 1993. The Composition of Disability Beneficiary Populations: Trends and Policy Implications. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Clinton A. 1997. Flexible labor: Restructuring the American work force. Monthly Labor Review 121(8):3–17. Cornfield D. 1987. Workers, Managers, and Technological Change. New York: Plenum Press. Derthick M. 1990. Agency Under Stress: The Social Security Administration in American Government. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. Hale T. 2001. The Federal Effort to Identify People with Disabilities in the Current Population Survey. Unpublished paper, Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hirschhorn L. 1988. The Workplace Within: Psychodynamics of Organizational Life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Hirschhorn L. 1991. Stresses and patterns of adjustment in the postindustrial factory. In: Work, Health, and Productivity (Green G, Baker F, eds.). New York: Oxford University Press. Hipple S. 1997. Worker displacement in an expanding economy. Monthly Labor Review 120(12):26–39. Hipple S. 1999. Worker displacement in the mid-1990s. Monthly Labor Review 122(7):15–32. Jacobs E, Zhang H. 1998. Handbook of U.S. Labor Statistics: Employment, Earnings, Prices, Productivity, and Other Labor Data. (2nd edition). Lanham, MD: Bernan Press.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: