Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Economic Order - Labor

Almost two years ago I wrote of what can be described as a New Economic Order. I basically said that the differences between the first world and the third world are closing and that although we in the U.S. may not start living like squatters and beggars any time soon, many  characteristics of the less developed world are (shall we say) "developing" here in the U.S.

I read an essay today about changes in the labor market and labor force here in North America (and indeed throughout the industrialized world). It basically said that over the past 30 years or so we have seen an increase in high-skill, high pay jobs as well as low-skill, low pay jobs while those in the middle have been disappearing. The essay, a scholarly piece produced by one of the Washington think tanks, goes on to describe high-skill, medium-skill and low-skill jobs but basically the latter is limited to personal care (janitorial, restaurant work) security and motor vehicle operator type jobs.

This disappearance is due to a number of factors but the essay stated that for the most part it was caused by both the globalization (and therefore increased competition in) labor markets and the automation of many tasks. Add into that the cost of purchasing health insurance in the U.S. workplace and the choice between foreign labor and domestic is made for just about anyone contemplating business expansion in the near term.

It was interesting that the report's author stated that those jobs that have not been offshored or automated out of existence, fall into two skill categories: abstract and manual. Abstract requires analysis, judgement, language skills and tact. Manual are simply jobs that are routine but yet cannot be done by machine (yet).

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