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Trends in Direct Measures of Job Skill Requirements

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  • Michael J. Handel

    (The Jerome Levy Economics Institute)

Abstract

It is commonly assumed that jobs in the United States require ever greater levels of skill and, more strongly, that this trend is accelerating as a result of the diffusion of information technology. This has led to substantial concern over the possibility of a growing mismatch between the skills workers possess and the skills employers demand, reflected in debates over the need for education reform and the causes of the growth in earnings inequality. However, efforts to measure trends have been hampered by the lack of direct measures of job skill requirements. This paper uses previously unexamined measures from the Quality of Employment Surveys and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine trends in job education and training requirements and provide a validation tool for skill measures in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, whose quality has long been subject to question. Results indicate that job skill requirements have increased steadily over the 1970s-1990s but that there has been no acceleration in recent years that might explain the growth in earnings inequality. There is also no dramatic change in the number of workers who are undereducated. These results reinforce the conclusions of earlier work that reports of a growing skills mismatch are likely overdrawn.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael J. Handel, 2000. "Trends in Direct Measures of Job Skill Requirements," Macroeconomics 0004048, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0004048 Note: Type of Document - Adobe Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on PostScript; pages: 34; figures: included
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael J. Handel, "undated". "Is There a Skills Crisis? Trends in Job Skill Requirements, Technology, and Wage Inequality in the United States," Economics Public Policy Brief Archive ppb_62, Levy Economics Institute.
    2. Teixeira, Ruy, 1998. "Rural and Urban Manufacturing Workers: Similar Problems, Similar Challenges: Results of the ERS Rural Manufacturing Survey," Agricultural Information Bulletins 33621, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    3. Cecilia Rouse & Claudia Goldin, 2000. "Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of "Blind" Auditions on Female Musicians," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 715-741.
    4. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213.
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    Cited by:

    1. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333.
    2. Fabián Slonimczyk, 2013. "Earnings inequality and skill mismatch in the U.S.: 1973–2002," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 11(2), pages 163-194, June.
    3. Auray, Stéphane & Danthine, Samuel, 2005. "Bargaining Frictions and Hours Worked," IZA Discussion Papers 1722, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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    JEL classification:

    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics

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