Dramatic shifts in the U.S. labor market in the last 25 years are relegating older workers -- even those with a college education -- to lower-wage jobs, according to a research paper by MIT Economics Professor David Autor.I have certainly written before that the "college premium" is on its way downward, and this research supports my contention. We need to be cognizant of the implications of this idea, because it changes many of our long-held beliefs as to how we get ahead, and calls into question the commonly-held belief that more education is always better. I just don't know what it will take to get us to see that putting every young person on the college track and letting them fail into the vital (but non-academic) jobs is not a recipe for long-term survival.
This trend appears likely to steepen in the current recession, as employers accelerate the rate at which they shed nonessential positions....
As the labor market "hollows out," workers who in a previous generation would have occupied middle-skill, white-collar positions must increasingly find their fortunes elsewhere -- either in high-skill, high-education professional, technical and managerial positions, or in less-educated manual labor and in-person service jobs. Autor's data indicate that since 1980, older workers with at least some college education are increasingly doing what was once thought of as "non-college" work, i.e. non-routine, but not highly skilled jobs.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
From about a month ago, Mark Thoma quotes an article by Stephanie Schorow: