April 13, 2012
Then and now: Employment changes over the past 50 years
In 1962, the year of the Seattle World’s Fair, Bill Gates was 6 and years away from transforming computing and our area’s employment options. Microsoft has changed the jobs landscape, but one constant during the past 50 years is Boeing's position as the Puget Sound region’s largest private employer.
Just like the rise of Microsoft and the steadfastness of Boeing, the past five decades have seen dramatic changes and some remarkable constancy in the jobs arena. What was going on in employment in 1962? Let’s take a look back, with a nod to today’s working world.
What else was happening in 1962 in the world of work?
Walmart was founded by Sam Walton in 1962. With more than 2 million employees now, it is the biggest private employer in the world. Kmart and Target also opened their first stores in 1962.
Cost of work clothing, based on Sears advertisements
Men’s jacket: $16.99 (then), $85 (now)
Men’s slacks: $5.99 (then), $29.99 (now)
Women’s short-sleeve dress: $6.94 (then), $41.99 (now)
Seniors at work
In May 2009, 40.4 percent of those 55 years or older were in the work force, the highest rate since March 1962.
Women with a college degree who choose to work
1962: approximately 57 percent
2011: approximately 80 percent
Get a look at some workplaces in 1962 in the 27-minute video titled “The Dropout (1962),” which examines the reasons behind why high school students drop out and the types of jobs they can get. Other work topics related to 1962 include President John F. Kennedy discussing an income tax cut, an Army recruitment commercial, Peace Corps pioneers and the history of the U.S. Department of Labor (mid 1950s to ’63).
The LINC (Laboratory Instrument Computer) was first used in 1962. The mini-computer, a forerunner of the PC, was a 12-bit computer with a 0.5 MHz processor and sold for $43,000. Costco is currently selling an HP laptop with 2.4 GHz processor for $679.99.
(Cost of a gallon of gas)
1962: 28 cents
2012: More than $4
Employment ad from 1962 Seattle Times
The Peterson School of Business in Seattle asked readers to “Pick your heavenly job.” It offered free placement after a period of training: executive secretary, 48 weeks; secretary receptionist, 20 weeks; basic stenographer, 12 weeks; clerk bookkeeper, 12 weeks; professional bookkeeper, 36 weeks; professional machine operator, 36 weeks; IBM executive data processor, 48 weeks; IBM keypunch operator, four weeks.
CHANGES IN LABOR
The Salary Reform Act of 1962 specified the Bureau of Labor Statistics as the agency that would collect salary rates of private industries. This would set the salaries of federal workers doing the same level of work and having comparable duties and responsibilities.
President Kennedy signed into law the Work Hours Standards Act of 1962, establishing overtime pay of time and a half for work past eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.
The Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962 was the first major federal job-training program. It provided up to 52 weeks of training in a new skill for unemployed workers.
Fighting for fairness
Latino civil rights activist César Chávez founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW).
Yale University economist Arthur Okun published an article in 1962 describing the empirical relationship between changes in output and changes in the unemployment rate. Okun’s Law states that for every 1 percent increase in unemployment, the country’s gross domestic product will decrease by 2 percent from its potential.
In 1962, the International Labor Organization created a resolution to provide guidance on the measurement of hours of work. The resolution established three concepts of hours of work: “normal hours of work,” “hours actually worked” and “hours paid.”
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; University of Washington, Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest; Bureau of Labor Statistics; Walmart; U.S. Office of Personnel Management; United Farm Workers; National Committee on Pay Equity; YouTube.com
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