More Than a Paycheck How to create good blue-collar jobs in the knowledge economy
Fifty years ago a good blue-collar job was with a large manufacturer such as General Motors or Goodyear. Often unionized, it paid well, offered benefits, and was secure. But manufacturing employment has steadily declined, from about 25% of the U.S. labor force in 1970 to less than 10% today. Now a decent living entails more than a generous wage; it involves sharing the company's success with employees. Some companies offer a direct stake in the company's performance through stock, a share in profits, or both. Companies with employee stock ownership plans report significantly higher sales growth and higher revenue per employee than do conventionally owned companies in the same industry. However, virtually all the gains to be had go to those that create an ownership culture, by building in participative management and helping employees learn to think and act like owners.