Institute on Education and the Economy


Market Segmentation and the Restructuring of Banking Jobs (Working Paper No. 9, January 1999)

Katherine Hughes and Annette Bernhardt

One of the most pressing questions facing researchers and policy makers today is how economic restructuring has affected the nature of work in America. In a case study of retail banking, we investigated how changes in the banking industry over the past two decades have affected branch-level jobs. We find a strategy of market segmentation that has had variable effects on job quality. While platform workers have been upgraded and their job quality has improved, for tellers we find mixed changes. In general, branch work at all levels has been transformed, entailing more complex functions, greater use of technology, and a less rigid division of labor. This is a restructuring process still underway, one that is redefining the role of branch-level employees.

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