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The Growth of Low Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market

David Autor () and David Dorn ()

No 15150, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: 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.

JEL-codes: E24 J24 J31 J62 O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-bec, nep-lab, nep-mac and nep-ure
Date: 2009-07
Note: LS
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Published as David H. Autor & David Dorn, 2013. "The Growth of Low-Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the US Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1553-97, August.

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Journal Article: The Growth of Low-Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the US Labor Market (2013) Downloads
Working Paper: The Growth of Low Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market (2012) Downloads
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