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Title:Quantity and price adjustments in Kansas labor markets, 1899
Author(s):Kim, Young-Chul
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Alston, Lee J.
Department / Program:Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Economics, History
Economics, Labor
Abstract:This thesis is an attempt to evaluate and correct the sanguine view of the U.S. labor market prior to the twentieth century as a 'spot' market. The spot-market characterization permits economists to produce clean predictions of market behavior, based on one dimension of market adjustments, i.e. wage movements. However, the conventional analysis based on the assumption of the spot labor market poses difficulties in characterizing the functioning of labor markets in the late nineteenth century. This thesis directs its attention to the matter of quantity adjustment of the labor market, with a particular focus on the nature and structure of (un)employment at the turn of the century. Although its major part is devoted to exploring the process of quantity adjustment, this study is also concerned with its ultimate impact on the process of price adjustment. The thesis is organized around a survey of 1058 wage earners in Kansas conducted by the state Bureau of Labor and Industry which was published in its Fifteenth Annual Report for 1899.
What I found in the thesis is that the U.S. labor market at the eve of the century did not operate like a spot market. Rather, the market seems to have been segregated into a large number of noncompeting groups where workers experienced substantially different patterns of industrial employment relations and earning power over tenure. Moreover, segmented labor markets and, consequently, distinctive market adjustment processes across occupational group argue strongly for the operation of internal labor markets. Evidence supporting this is long-term employment relations, hysteresis effect of unemployment and efficiency wage incentive contracts. The identification of internal labor markets at the turn of the century contradicts the claim that internal labor markets did not predate labor union and that their advent was management's response to new social norms of employment, especially labor unrest during the 1920's and 1930's. Instead, the findings in my thesis suggest that internal labor markets had developed and spread prior to the twentieth century, coping with growing organizational complexity. Economic efficiency considerations appear to have been seen as a major determinant of growth in internal labor markets.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Kim, Young-Chul
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9503237
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9503237

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