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

  title={The Growth of Low Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market},
  author={David Autor and David Dorn},
  journal={NBER Working Paper Series},
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… 

Polarization and the growth of low-skill employment in Spanish Local Labor Markets

This paper analyses the long-term transformations of local labor markets in fifty Spanish provinces to identify the extent and the drivers of employment polarization. We find that the decline of

Polarization and the Growth of Low‐Skill Service Jobs in Spanish Local Labor Markets

This paper analyzes the long‐term transformations of the occupational structure in 50 provinces of Spain with a view to ascertain the existence and assess the extent of employment polarization. The

Skilled Tradable Services: The Transformation of U.S. High-Skill Labor Markets

We study a group of service industries that are skill-intensive, widely traded, and have recently seen explosive wage growth. Between 1980 and 2015, these ?Skilled Tradable Services? accounted for a

Skill-biased technical change and Labor market polarization:the role of skill heterogeneity within occupations

I document that employment share change and wage growth of occupations tend to increase monotonically with various measures of skill intensity since 1980 in the US, in contrast to the existing

The Polarization of Employment in German Local Labor Markets

This paper uses the task-based view of technological change to study employment and wage polarization at the level of local labor markets in Germany between 1979 and 2007. In order to directly relate

Low-Wage Job Growth, Polarization, and the Limits and Opportunities of the Service Economy

We analyze U.S. job growth from the 1980s to the 2010s. We define jobs as occupations within sectors to capture position in the production system as well as skill hierarchies. Low-wage jobs outgrew

Job polarization on local labor markets

"The labor markets of most industrialized countries are polarized. This means that employment has grown in jobs at the upper and lower tails of the wage distribution, while employment in the middle

Innovation, Wages, and Polarization in China

Using data from CHIPS 1995-2013, we find polarization of employment from middle-income Skilled jobs to work in the Unskilled and Self-Employment job categories. This redistribution of employment is

The rise of low-skill service employment: The role of dual-earner households

The U.S. Job Ladder and the Low-Wage Jobs of the New Millennium

In the years following 2000, the U.S. economy has exhibited relatively strong growth in lower-paying jobs. Previous studies have put this growth in the context of shocks to particular higher-paying



Spillovers from High-Skill Consumption to Low-Skill Labor Markets

Abstract The least-skilled workforce in the United States is disproportionally employed in the provision of time-intensive services that can be thought of as market substitutes for home production

Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: an Alternative Theory and Some Evidence

This paper offers a model where firms decide what types of jobs to create and then search for suitable workers. When there are few skilled workers and the productivity gap between the skilled and the

Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The Rising Polarization of Work in Britain

This paper shows that the United Kingdom since 1975 has exhibited a pattern of job polarization with rises in employment shares in the highest- and lowest-wage occupations. This is not entirely

Skills, Tasks and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings

A central organizing framework of the voluminous recent literature studying changes in the returns to skills and the evolution of earnings inequality is what we refer to as the canonical model, which

The Effect of Low‐Skilled Immigration on U.S. Prices: Evidence from CPI Data

I exploit the large variation across U.S. cities and through time in the relative size of the low‐skilled immigrant population to estimate the causal effect of immigration on prices of nontraded

The Effect of Product Demand on Inequality: Evidence from the US and the UK

This paper examines the relationship between product demand and the pattern of rising skill premia and rising employment of skilled workers in the US and the UK since the 1980s. If more skilled

Job Polarization in Europe

The structure of employment is always changing, and economists are always trying to understand those changes. In the 1990s the idea of skill-biased technological change (SBTC) was used to understand

Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach

This paper presents a semiparametric procedure to analyze the effects of institutional and labor market factors on recent changes in the U.S. distribution of wages. The effects of these factors are


This paper shows that recent changes in the employment structure of 16 European countries have been similar to those taking place in the US and the UK. At least since the early 1990s, the employment

Job Polarization in the U.S.: A Reassessment of the Evidence from the 1980s and 1990s

In this paper, we review the evidence for job polarization in the U.S. and provide a description of the occupational employment changes that characterized the U.S. labor market during the 1970s,