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Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufacturing

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  • Eli Berman
  • John Bound
  • Zvi Griliches

Abstract

This paper investigates the shift in demand towards skilled labor in U.S. manufacturing. Between 1979 and 1989. employment of production workers in manufacturing dropped by 2.2 mil1ion or 15 percent while employment of non-production workers rose by 3 percent. A decomposition of changing employment patterns in each of 450 industries reveals that the defense buildup and trade deficits can account for only a small part of the shift in demand towards non-production workers. We conclude that production labor-saving technological change is the most likely explanation for the shift in demand towards non-production workers since the shift is mostly due to changes in labor demand within industries rather than reallocation of employment towards industries with higher shares of skilled labor. Strong correlations between within-industry skil1 upgrading and both increased investment in computers on the one hand and increased investment in R&D on the other provide further evidence for production labor saving technological change.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4255.

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Date of creation: Jan 1993
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Publication status: published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, May 1994, pp. 367-397.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4255

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  1. Revenga, Ana L, 1992. "Exporting Jobs? The Impact of Import Competition on Employment and Wages in U.S. Manufacturing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 255-84, February.
  2. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326, February.
  3. Lawrence F. Katz & Ana L. Revenga, 1989. "Changes in the Structure of Wages: The U.S. versus Japan," NBER Working Papers 3021, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bartel, Ann P & Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1987. "The Comparative Advantage of Educated Workers in Implementing New Technology," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 1-11, February.
  5. Jacob Mincer, 1989. "Human Capital Responses to Technological Change in the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 3207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Donald Siegel & Zvi Griliches, 1991. "Purchased Services, Outsourcing, Computers, and Productivity in Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 3678, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jacob Mincer, 1991. "Human Capital, Technology, and the Wage Structure: What Do Time Series Show?," NBER Working Papers 3581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. McKinley L. Blackburn & David E. Bloom & Richard B. Freeman, 1989. "The Declining Economic Position of Less-Skilled American Males," NBER Working Papers 3186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Zvi Griliches, 1970. "Notes on the Role of Education in Production Functions and Growth Accounting," NBER Chapters, in: Education, Income, and Human Capital, pages 71-128 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Welch, F, 1970. "Education in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 35-59, Jan.-Feb..
  11. repec:fth:coluec:455 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Frederic Scherer, 1984. "Using Linked Patent and R&D Data to Measure InterindustryTechnology Flows," NBER Chapters, in: R & D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 417-464 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Goldin, Claudia & Margo, Robert A, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34, February.
  14. Timothy Dunne & James A Schmitz Jr., 1992. "Wages, Employer Size-Wage Premia and Employment Structure: Their Relationship to Advanced-Technology Usage at U.S. Manufacturing Establishments," Working Papers 92-15, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  15. John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1.
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