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ERIC Number: ED453356
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-Feb
Pages: 62
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Is There a Skills Crisis? Trends in Job Skill Requirements, Technology, and Wage Inequality in the United States. Working Paper No. 295.
Handel, Michael
Many economists and policymakers believe that the growth in inequality in the last 2 decades reflects mostly an imbalance between the demand for and the supply of employee skills driven by technological change, particularly the spread of computers. However, the empirical basis for this belief is not strong. The growth in inequality was concentrated in the recession years of the early 1980s and any imbalance between the supply of and demand for workers with technological skills likely did not occur until later. The growth of the supply of more-educated workers decelerated during the 1980s, any impact of which would not have been felt until the late 1980s and 1990s. However inequality actually stabilized then. On the demand side, trends in occupational composition do not suggest that upgrading was particularly rapid in the 1980s and 1990s compared to the 1970s. Computers do not seem to have greatly affected employment in a number of narrow occupations that are likely to be sensitive to technological change (e.g., computer programmers, bank tellers), but computer use itself does seem to be associated with more education, even controlling for occupation. But the causal status of this relationship is uncertain and the magnitude of the association seems too small to have seriously compromised the ability of supply to meet the implied growth in demand. Other possible causes of inequality growth, including macroeconomic forces and the decline of institutional protections for workers, should be considered. (Contains 52 references, 8 tables, and 13 figures.) (CML)
Jerome Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, Blithewood, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000. Tel: 845-758-7700; Fax: 845-758-1149; e-mail:; Web site: For full text:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Bard Coll., Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Jerome Levy Economics Inst.