Labor Polarization

Polarization in the Labor Market


Steven Greenhouse, the associate of The New York Times in his article A Part-Time Life, as Hours Shrink and Shift raises the topical issue of labor polarization. The author argues that this dangerous tendency increases the level of poverty, by this, enhancing the gap between the rich and poor. Considering that jobs are the main way by which the individuals are linked to the economy it is critically important to provide the best conditions to employees in order to avoid the deterioration of this issue (Kalleberg, 2011). This paper will observe and analyze the causes and effects of polarization in the job market.

To begin, it is necessary to identify and point out the appropriate assumptions made by Steven Greenhouse. Revealing the effects of polarization, the writer accentuates that the impact of corporations is ever-increasing and their competition affects the lives of workers. In particular, a modern approach to hire part-time employees is known to save significant amount of money because temporal workers get lower wages and are deprived of most benefits. What is more, this business practice enables the owners and managers to obtain the most effective productivity of the staff because in order to save their job position people are expected to do their outmost during their short shifts. Besides, naturally, their productivity tends to decrease within the time, therefore, the use of part-time workers with 3-6 hours shifts allows getting the best results (Greenhouse, 2012).

In addition, to synchronize the working process and anticipate the additional costs, the todays managers apply to the software that traces customers demand and workers productivity, processing this information and suggesting the appropriate time and length of work. Whereas, this approach is reasonable, justified and greatly beneficial for the chiefs, it makes a significant negative impact on the employees wages and, thus, affects their life quality. In this regard, the popular term flexibility that is used to define work conditions (the time and length of shifts) has a dark meaning for employees (Greenhouse, 2012).

Detecting the causes of this issue, one should comprehend that polarization in the job market is believed to be a side effect of the economic globalization (Explaining polarization in the labor market, 2015). To be more precise, the modern economic globalization is characterized by increased competition, government deregulation, continued expansion of service sector and ideological shifts (Explaining polarization in the labor market, 2015). It is necessary to acknowledge that all these aspects are the reasons of polarization. The following sections are aimed at explaining the mechanisms globalization referring to each of its characteristics.

As it is seen, in the present time the rivalry encourages the integration of business, which supports the emergence growth of corporations. What makes the things even worse is that the competition between modern corporations engages its owners to impose as much risks and burdens as possible on workers. Unfortunately, in practice it presumes that corporations obtain the qualities of the psychopaths (Bakan, Achbar & Abbott, 2010). Consider the case, in a documentary film The Corporation, its authors make an explicit assumption that the todays corporations demonstrate all psychopathic traits. Specifically, the competition encourages the development of deceptiveness, irresponsibility, lack of empathy, inability to develop stable relations and other unethical behaviors (Bakan, Achbar & Abbott, 2010). Therefore, one can rightfully conclude that the ever-increasing approach to hire part-timers is a practical manifestation of the above-stated behaviors that is resulted by the severe rivalry between corporations.

Furthermore, the economic polarization is, at least, indirectly supported by government, which is clearly visible in the tendency of government deregulation. This trend is known as neo-liberalism, which presumes that in order to attract more capital, government provides more flexibility to the business sector. In general, this approach is proven to be quite productive; however, the lion share of profit is obtained by the minority of people; whereas, the rest becomes even poorer. Simply put, the process of partimization, described by Greenhouse, is the manifestation of neo-liberalism, or in other words, government deregulation.

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Moreover, it is known that the transition to the innovative economy is characterized by the increasing role of the service industry. Therefore, in the first place, the above-described processes are observed in the workflow of food and goods retailers, which can be attributed to the service sector. Consider the case, it is reported that

Big-box retailers or mall clothing chains are now capable of bringing in more hands in anticipation of a delivery truck pulling in or the weather changing, and sending workers home when real-time analyses show sales are slowing (Kantor, 2014).

Given that most part-timers work in a service sector, it is natural to conclude that the further expansion of this industry will require even more part-time employees. Consequently, in this way, economic globalization supports the further polarization of the labor market.

Finally, this process is accompanied by the ideology shifts. For instance, the survey of the contemporary American job market reveals that women joined men in the paid labor force while teenagers and seniors left it (Fischer & Hout, 2005, p. 41). In other words, economic globalization dismissed gender unequally. It is a good tendency, but it has a downside: an increased number of individuals who are willing to work enhance the competition. As for the age diversity, it is also shaped by the ideology shifts. In particular, young people understand that getting good education is the only chance to avoid low-paid job, thus, they strive to study instead of joining the labor market in their teens. Simultaneously, the considerable rivalry encourages seniors to leave job market.

In short, corporations prefer to hire part-timers because this approach helps saving money, which has a positive impact on companys sustainability. Nevertheless, in this way, the corporations are engaged in unethical attitudes towards stakeholders. This negative tendency is stipulated by the phenomenon of economic globalization that leads the polarization of the job market. In this regard, the part-timers are deprived of fair working opportunities, which are predefined by considerable rivalry, neo-liberalization, expanding service sector and ideological shifts.

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