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OFFSHORING HAS HAD a profound effect on American life. In 2007, Alan S. Blinder of Princeton University published a paper addressing “How Many U.S. Jobs Might Be Offshorable?” Sure enough, the U.S. job market has changed in 11 years, but not all in the ways this paper predicted.
And in The New York Times, yesterday, Ben Casselman describes “The White-Collar Job Apocalypse That Didn’t Happen.”
Here, today and tomorrow in Parts 1 and 2, are tidbits on offshoring, as well as a personal note confirming its updated thesis.
The Blinder Study. There are more than 800 occupation codes defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In his 2007 study, Allan Blinder assigned occupations into four categories based on their potential offshorability. Indeed, he stressed the word “potential,” not inevitable.
Examples: What with worldwide computing, a data-entry keyer is highly offshorable. By contrast, a bus driver is not.
Rating Offshorability. Blinder devised a 0-100 scale rating 291 occupations for their potential offshorability. Computer programmers and data entry keyers both rated 100. With a rating of 25, the least likely to be offshored in his study, were business operation specialists, architects, health and safety engineers, music directors and composers, advertising sales agents, postal service mail sorters, and machine operators.
Mail sorters, I can see. But I’m puzzled by composers. I think of Antonin Dvořák’s U.S. stay in the 1890s and Aaron Copland’s Paris days in the 1920s.
In 2007 Blinder estimated “that somewhere between 22 percent and 29 percent of all U.S. jobs are or will be potentially offshorable within a decade or two.”
Furthermore. Among other points, Blinder identified “… little or no correlation between an occupation’s ‘offshorability’ and the skill level of its workers (as measured either by educational attainment or wages).”
He also noted, “To date, more political heat than intellectual light has been shed on the phenomenon that has come to be called ‘offshoring,’ that is, the migration of employment from the U.S. (and other rich countries) to other (mostly poorer) countries. This unfortunate situation may be inevitable, given the political sensitivity of the subject and the thinness of the factual base.”
Somehow, 2007 doesn’t seem unfamiliar. Tomorrow, in Part 2, we’ll see how Blinder’s thesis is holding up. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019