Who to Blame for the Decline of the Middle Class
Posted at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 27
David Autor and David Corn wonder whether we have “mechanized and computerized ourselves into obsolescence,” leading to the hollowing out of middle-income jobs.
“Workers without college education therefore concentrate in manual task-intensive jobs — like food services, cleaning and security — which are numerous but offer low wages, precarious job security and few prospects for upward mobility. This bifurcation of job opportunities has contributed to the historic rise in income inequality.”
“Following this logic, we predict that the middle-skill jobs that survive will combine routine technical tasks with abstract and manual tasks in which workers have a comparative advantage — interpersonal interaction, adaptability and problem-solving.”
Matthew Yglesias isn’t so sure that technology is to blame for income polarization.
“But if people had more money, people would demand more high-end leisure activities… It’s a full-spectrum cycle of income stagnation, where households don’t have the money to buy nice services and therefore people can’t get jobs providing nice services.”