#NYTOpinion: Thomas B. @Edsall: The Downward Ramp

Thomas B. Edsall

With the bursting of the tech bubble at the start of the 21st century, two decades of growth at the high end of the job market — once the province of college graduates with strong cognitive abilities — came to an abrupt halt, according to detailed studies of employment and investment patterns by three Canadian economists. We are still feeling the ramifications.

But new evidence produced by Paul Beaudry and David A. Green of the University of British Columbia, and Ben Sand of York University, demonstrates that the collapse, between 1980 and 2000, of mid-level, mid-pay jobs — gutted by automation or foreign competition (and often both) — has now spread to the high-skill labor market.

The U-shaped pattern of job growth characteristic of recent decades – strong at the top and bottom, but weak throughout the middle — has now become “a bit more like a downward ramp,” according to David Autor, an economist at M.I.T. who documented the decline in mid-level jobs in the 1980s and 1990s.

Preliminary findings suggest that this trend is alarming in almost every respect. Just one example: the drying up of cognitively demanding jobs is having a cascade effect. College graduates are forced to take jobs beneath their level of educational training, moving into clerical and service positions instead of into finance and high tech.

Rima NYT Comment SmallIt’s nice to know it isn’t just our imagination… 

We got caught in the tech bubble in the early 2000’s and it took us until about 2007 to finally recover from it. Then came the Great Recession and we’ve yet to recover. The only difference between then and now is that in addition to a partner whose career needed to be restarted after the tech bubble, and has yet to restart, post-Great Recession, we also have a college student who is two years away from graduating. 

Unless the electorate grasps the dire straights we’re all in and the reasons behind them and then goes on to vote out as many Republicans and corporate Democrats as can be identified and voted out, en masse, there is very little hope that things will change any time soon.

To read the rest of my comment and Professor Edsall’s op-ed, click here.

Curated from www.nytimes.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *