A few years ago we began hearing about the “jobless recovery“. The bad news is that “jobless” may be the permanent state for workers who are not able to develop a new set of marketable skills. So if you’re someone with routine skills, that place you in the middle-class, it’s past time for you to shift your talent. Job polarization is your new enemy. What’s that mean?
Job polarization is the subject of a new paper by Nir Jaimovich and Henry Siu, described last week by David Andolfatto at MacroMania: “Job polarization refers to the recent disappearance of employment in occupations in the middle of the skill distribution… They add that “… across three decades, the share of employment in the middle of the skill distribution appears to be disappearing. Prime suspect: routine biased technological change (e.g., think of ATMs replacing bank tellers or voicemail replacing secretaries that used to “take a message”).
Technology is wiping the mid-range jobs out of the economy. Add to this the massive structural change as jobs migrate to low-wage overseas centers like China and India. I seriously doubt if the new iPhone is going to be manufactured in California.
With presidential politics moving into full focus, this issue is sure to come up more frequently. So don’t be misled, neither candidate is going to be able to fix this problem, spin and rhetoric aside. Your best option is going to be to update your skills now, shift to entrepreneurship, and not wait for your routine, middle-class skills job to make a comeback.
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