The Growth of Low Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market
David Autor () and
No 7068, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
We offer an integrated explanation and empirical analysis of the polarization of U.S. employment and wages between 1980 and 2005, and the concurrent growth of low skill service occupations. We attribute polarization to the interaction between consumer preferences, which favor variety over specialization, and the falling cost of automating routine, codifiable job tasks. Applying a spatial equilibrium model, we derive, test, and confirm four implications of this hypothesis. Local labor markets that were specialized in routine activities differentially adopted information technology, reallocated low skill labor into service occupations (employment polarization), experienced earnings growth at the tails of the distribution (wage polarization), and received inflows of skilled labor.
Keywords: job tasks; inequality; service occupations; technological change; polarization; skill demand; occupational choice (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E24 J24 J31 J62 O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-lab, nep-lma, nep-ltv and nep-mac
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Published in: American Economic Review, 2013, 103 (5), 1553-1597
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Journal Article: The Growth of Low-Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the US Labor Market (2013)
Working Paper: The Growth of Low Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market (2009)
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