The economic organization of the USA has been influenced by various economic models. For example, globalization has been accompanied by various models of labor practices. The economic restructuring that was conducted by many nations in the 1970s up to the first phase of the 1980s was triggered by globalization and increased market competition. This economic restructuring also led to a significant shift in the way businesses were conducted, both in high and low income countries. Trade liberalization and regional blocks added intense competitive pressure to the global market. Hence, it compelled firms to cut costs especially through downsizing, outsourcing and through changing their skill requirements. The days of job security and stable pay ended, and they were replaced by a new breed of a much less stable work force. This paper seeks to analyze the impact of economic restructuring and globalization on employment dynamics, the nature and characteristics of jobs and their effect on gender balance at the work place.
As external market conditions increasingly influenced the internal labor market, firms had to restructure the nature of their operations in order to remain competitive. This had repercussions on the peripheral labor market. For instance, as many governments mitigated their expenditure on public development, many individuals faced retrenchment and ineffective terms of service. The stable and long term working conditions, for example, were replaced by less stable ones as firms reduced in size considerably to lower costs. Another significant outcome in this process was that that high skill jobs became more concentrated in the core areas, hence, eliminating middle level managers. This was because countries whose economies thrived aimed at advancing them through high specialized skills and sophisticated technologies. On the other hand, low skill labor continued to be a major component of the labor force. Low skilled labor remained prevalent especially in periphery nations, which acted as potential primary producer. As such, it contributed immensely to the growth of the informal sector in many developing countries. Job tenure also decreased and firm hopping became rampant as the high rates of unemployment represented a constant threat of loss of income. Furthermore, Labor conditions that were unacceptable in the past have now been embraced as part of the regular economy. This has occurred since the income disparities between countries have resulted into opportunities for skilled laborers. There has also been a parallel reduction of opportunities for low skilled workers. This is been primarily championed by the need for efficiency in economic system. For instance, factory system has been one of the most viable means of mass production. Hence, machines are preferred to the application of manual labor.
Industrial Relocations and Displaced Workers
The effects of the exceedingly high competitive pressure on firms due to globalization and economic restructuring are majorly felt by the local communities. The real cost of the relocation of a firm is always unfairly borne by the dislocated workers, their households and their communities. Even though there may be exceptions to the often painful labor market transition, the individual and the community are usually left facing serious economic and social cost. This includes, but is not limited to income losses, long periods of unemployment and fewer job offers as well as health and family problems.
The Informal Sector and the Vicious Circle of Poverty in Developing Countries
In the 1970’s and early 1980’s, the informal sector was frowned upon and considered backward. Factors such as low skills and productivity, low levels of earnings, unstable working conditions and very precarious job contracts led to the assumption that as countries developed, the informal sector would be absorbed into the formal sector. On the contrary, budget cuts and privatization by the public sector led to the diminishing preference for formal jobs and an increasing relevance for informal jobs. This was compounded by the use of smaller firms to do peripheral jobs. This increased the attractiveness of informal employment as an ideal alternative.
The lack of social policies that can offer protection against the problems caused by globalization is more severe in developing countries. This has systematically made it easier to mistreat and neglect informal workers. Consequently, it has made poverty the norm rather than the exception. With proper regulation and distribution, the informal sector, therefore, stands to offer employment solutions that will go a long way in increasing the disposable incomes of households. It will also reduce the dependency that has continued to perpetuate poverty in especially in developing nations.
Informalization and Women
Since the 1970s, women have consistently played a bigger role in the informal sector than men. Considering the market transformations of the past two decades, it can be analyzed whether there have been any changes in this labor trends. The feminization of the labor force has intensified the dependence of women in informal employment. Furthermore, the loss of jobs has forced more women to concentrate on lower levels of production. The continued involvement of women in childcare and household work has also been a form of economic disadvantage to them. This is not only because it is unpaid labor, but also because it diminishes their mobility and free will to design their own market strategies. The structural readjustments and economic crises have forced women to formulate better strategies both nationally and internationally to organize around labor related issues.
Contradictory Tendencies for Women
The past three decades have seen major changes for women that need to be taken into consideration in order to properly evaluate the contradictory tendencies affecting their work. Firstly, despite the significant reduction in gender gaps in education, the average female verses male enrolment ratio is still very low. Moreover, women’s improvement in terms of education achievements does not essentially transform into better job market for them. This is because job opportunities are determined by a number of factors other than education. Nonetheless, there has been a gradual increase in women’s participation in managerial and professional occupation due to their higher levels of education. These improved working conditions and upward social mobility are still in stark contrast with the low income still received by the majority of workers.
Another inconsistency in the analysis of women advancement trend is that despite the obvious gender discrimination and obstacles to the advancement of women, their comparative incomes have improved in relation to the earnings of men. Women workers have also had a growing preference for the manufacturing and service sector. This has contributed to feminization of the labor force. Hence, reversing earlier trends where women had lost out in the process of development due to marginalization and replacement of craft production with modern industry that employed predominantly male labor. The implication of this labor trend is that modern labor requirements are driven by competence rather than the gender of an individual.
Changes brought about by economic restructuring, enormous increase in precarious employment and informalized production have resulted in massive redistribution of resources away from labor. There has also been an increase in social inequalities, which has brought untold poverty and economic insecurity among many people. In order to properly address these constraints, designing of social protection policies and the regulation of distributive and redistributive channels need to be emphasized. More importantly, economic advancement should be facilitated in order to improve the capacity of people to gain more resources.