12 August 2011

something something .... Tom Smykowski!

Marginal Revolution | Tyler Cowen | Don Peck’s new book

It is Pinched: How the Great Recession has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It. Here is his Atlantic cover story on the future of the middle class, think of it as TGS from a more left-wing point of view, excerpt:
“I’m deeply concerned” about the prospects of less-skilled men, says Bruce Weinberg, an economist at Ohio State. In 1967, 97 percent of 30-to-50-year-old American men with only a high-school diploma were working; in 2010, just 76 percent were. Declining male employment is not unique to the United States. It’s been happening in almost all rich nations, as they’ve put the industrial age behind them. Weinberg’s research has shown that in occupations in which “people skills” are becoming more important, jobs are skewing toward women. And that category is large indeed. In his working paper “People People,” Weinberg and two co-authors found that interpersonal skills typically become more highly valued in occupations in which computer use is prevalent and growing, and in which teamwork is important. Both computer use and teamwork are becoming ever more central to the American workplace, of course; the restructuring that accompanied the Great Recession has only hastened that trend.
This seems like two different issues being conflated. Are we talking about "high-skilled jobs" or jobs requiring "people skills"? I don't know how you (or Weinberg) define those, but I see a world of difference between the two. You don't need advanced training or even a high school diploma to develop the latter.

You'd want a completely different set of responses if people (men?) are not getting jobs because they don't know things like nautical welding than if they're not getting jobs because they lack things like effective non-verbal communication skills.

* I was trying to make an Office Space joke in the title, but I don't have the time. This is all you get.

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