Release Date: April 1, 2022
Monthly update is a report card of how jobs are really doing in the U.S.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Economists, policymakers and financial market participants have been using the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI) since 2019 to assess job quality in the United States. Now, this acclaimed index has a new home under the management of the University at Buffalo.
The JQI assesses job quality in the United States by measuring desirable higher-wage/higher-hour jobs versus lower-wage/lower-hour jobs. The JQI results also may serve as an indicator of the overall health of the U.S. jobs market, because the index enables regular tracking of the direction and degree of change in high-to-low job composition.
“Regular headline employment data, such as unemployment rate and the total job formation, doesn’t tell the whole story,” says Cristian Tiu, PhD, associate professor and chair of finance in the UB School of Management. “The truth is that a lot of American jobs don’t pay well, and when measured in relative weekly income, have been declining in quality for at least three decades.”
Enter the JQI, which, together with its companion release — the JQInstant™ — provides a way of tracking the actual quality of jobs in real time as employment data is released by the U.S government, like a monthly report card on how jobs are really doing in the U.S.
The University at Buffalo JQI team is led by faculty and graduate students from the School of Management, in collaboration with faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Law School, as well as affiliated adjunct faculty.
Using data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics each month in its report on employment, the JQI is calculated by sorting production and nonsupervisory jobs into those above and below a mean weekly wage established for that month. The index itself is a relatively simple ratio, calculated by dividing the number of high-quality jobs by the number of low-quality jobs.
A detailed analysis provided by UB faculty accompanies the JQI release each month, offering insight into the numbers.
The JQI explains why, in this century, incomes have grown so much faster for high-paying jobs than low-paying jobs. It is also related to the U.S. trade deficit (loss of manufacturing jobs), interest rates and labor productivity.
By tracking this information, users can be more fully informed of past developments, current trends and likely future developments in the absence of policy intervention.
The information tracked by the JQI has proven especially relevant during the pandemic, in which tens of millions of low-income jobs were eliminated for months — further exposing the level of U.S. employment dependency on low-wage/low-hour jobs.
The index was previously administered under the auspices of Cornell Law School, and the UB team is committed to expanding the tool to produce a variety of additional analytical offerings.
Serving on the JQI board of managers are Daniel Alpert, managing partner, Westwood Capital LLC and a senior fellow at Cornell University; Marc Fasteau, president, Fulcrum Partners LLC; Gregg Fisher, founder, Quent Capital; and Michael Stumo, CEO, Coalition for a Prosperous America.
The JQI was developed by a consortium of institutions, including researchers at the Program on the Law and Regulation of Financial Institutions and Markets of the Jack G. Clarke Institute at Cornell University Law School, the Coalition for a Prosperous America, the University of Missouri – Kansas City Department of Economics, and the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity.
For more information and to view the monthly JQI reports, visit jobqualityindex.com.