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We Can Work It Out: the Impact of Technological Change on the Demand for Low Skill Workers

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  • Alan Manning

Abstract

There is little doubt that technology has had the most profound effect on altering the tasks that wehumans do in our jobs. Economists have long speculated on how technical change affects boththe absolute demand for labour as a whole and the relative demands for different types of labour.In recent years, the idea of skill-biased technical change has become the consensus view aboutthe current impact of technology on labour demand, namely that technical change leads to anincrease in the demand for skilled relative to unskilled labour painting a bleak future for theemployment prospects of less-skilled workers. But, drawing on a recent paper by Autor, Levyand Murnane (2003) about the impact of technology on the demand for different types of skills,this paper argues that the demand in the least-skilled jobs may be growing. But, it is argued thatemployment of the less-skilled is increasingly dependent on physical proximity to the moreskilledand may also be vulnerable in the long-run to further technological developments.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Manning, 2004. "We Can Work It Out: the Impact of Technological Change on the Demand for Low Skill Workers," CEP Discussion Papers dp0640, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0640
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor Demand and Technology; Inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

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