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up by an article in Time (Church and Greenwald, 1993) suggesting that Americans are realizing that the great American job is gone and that they should forget any idea of career-long employment with a big company. These perceptions affected employees' expectations about what it means to work in an organization and the role of loyalty to the employer.
Empirical research on changes in the employment relationship for the workforce as a whole suggests a more temperate view. There are some changes evident in the data, but some empirical measures of the employment relationship do not point to changes. When changes do appear, they are not overwhelmingly large. Furthermore, evidence of a long-term trend toward declining attachments in the workforce as a whole is modest and appears to be concentrated in the early 1990s, the most recent past. This raises the question of whether we are witnessing a period of short-term restructuring that may portend little about the future. It is possible, for example, that the evidence so far of modest change is driven by rather significant changes by large corporations, balanced by stability in the relationship for the majority of the workforce employed under other arrangements.
Empirical studies of the employment relationship based on large, random samples of the population and workforce available over a long span of years have focused primarily on two salient features of the employment relationship: job stability and job security.
Job stability is defined in the recent literature as a measure of how long jobs last (or how quickly they end), irrespective of the source of turnover. Changes in job stability are driven either by voluntary quits or by employer-initiated separations such as layoffs or firings. Employer-initiated separations tend to be greater and employee quits fewer during recessions (because most employees who quit do so to take jobs elsewhere that are scarce in recessions), offsetting tendencies reflected in the overall measures of job stability.
Diebold, Neumark, and Polsky (1997), examining the temporal evolution of job stability in U.S. labor markets over the 1970s