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“Routine Jobs” Disappearing along with Middle Class, raising Non-Participation Rates!

Thursday, January 5, 2017 11:54
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Here’s another examination of that all important “non-participation rate” Republicans like to bring up trying to discredit Obama’s low unemployment numbers.

As it turns out, Republicans have been unknowingly pointing out a major shift in the U.S. economy and jobs market. It’s a trend that accelerated after the Great Recession, another Republican gift to a more deregulated world.  It wasn’t just the loss of thousands of major manufacturing businesses nationwide, but a dramatic shift to that service economy we’ve all been warned about for decades (Perot vs Gore “sucking sound” debates):

The Wall Street Journal- ‘Routine’ Jobs Are Disappearing: One of the most worrying economic trends over the past few decades has been the decline of middle-class jobs in the U.S.

As “routine” jobs—often middle-class work based on a relatively narrow set of repeated tasks, such as welding-machine operators or bank tellers—disappear, many workers who would typically have held them have taken on lower-paying low-skill manual work or simply dropped out of the labor force, according to new research from a trio of economists.

The paper, called “Disappearing Routine Jobs,” provides more evidence that the transformation of work in the U.S.—from an industrial economy to a digital one where routine work is automated or outsourced and the remaining jobs are concentrated in low-paid service work or high-skilled knowledge work—is contributing to the shrinking labor-force participation rate. “Routine jobs are disappearing and more and more prime-age Americans aren’t working,” said co-author Henry Siu, a professor at the University of British Columbia. “These groups who have been caught in the transition are not better off,” said Mr. Siu. 

The share of Americans working in routine jobs has fallen from 40.5% in 1979 to 31.2% in 2014. The federal government’s official measure of Americans age 16 and over who are working or seeking work has fallen from a recent high of 67.3% in 2000 to 62.7% in November 2016.

The authors also found that the impact of the loss of routine jobs fell mostly on male high-school dropouts of all ages as well as men under age 50 with high-school diplomas. These groups have failed to move into high-paying, nonroutine jobs that require skills in areas like critical thinking and problem-solving. Instead, they have to a great extent stopped working at all, as many studies have documented.

To counter these trends, the U.S. must invest in raising the skills of the workers most likely to be affected by the disappearance of routine jobs, labor-market experts say.

Which may mean for Wisconsin legislators a need to specifically target non-college students who need technical training, than going after college students or turning universities into trade schools like Scott Walker is suggesting.

A former liberal radio talk host who likes to ask the “follow-up question” at


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