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The vanishing middle: job polarization and workers’ response to the decline in middle-skill jobs

Didem Tuzemen () and Jonathan Willis ()

Economic Review, 2013, vol. 98, issue Q I, 5-32

Abstract: The share of middle-skill jobs in the United States has fallen sharply in the wake of advancing technology, the rise in outsourcing jobs overseas, and contractions in manufacturing. This shift of employment toward high- and low-skill jobs, known as "job polarization," is not well understood ; Tuzemen and Willis analyze thirty years of data from the Current Population Survey and show that changes in job composition within industries have been the primary driver of job polarization, not shifts in employment away from industries such as manufacturing. ; They also find that women have responded to the trend with increased educational attainment and a pronounced shift toward high-skill jobs, while men have shifted more evenly toward both high- and low-skill jobs.

Date: 2013
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