Job trends

Jobs — or the lack of jobs — is clearly the Number One issue in the country today. But even if the recession ended tomorrow, some say we would still face job issues related to technology and globalization. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden takes listeners through the long view of job trends, answering whether good jobs still be here.

“If you look at the past decade in changes in jobs, we can see it is useful to group jobs in three categories: First category are those jobs that actually have been increasing rather rapidly, and these include professional jobs, in particular, and service jobs and, before the recession, construction jobs. Now it makes sense that these jobs have been increasing because, for example, professional jobs, our economy is becoming more complex — requiring complex decision making, so we need people with more training, professional training. We are also becoming an economy relying on personal services — particularly health care services — so again [it] makes sense that those jobs have been increasing.

“Second category are jobs in areas like management, sales, clerical, repair, transportation. We have seen little change in the numbers of these jobs over the past decade. And I think technology is the main reason here. That technology — particularly cell phones and computers — have actually been able to replace or make more efficient people in these jobs, and so we simply don’t need as many people doing them.

“And then the third category — and these are jobs that actually declined tremendously over the last decade — farming and manufacturing. For farming, I think it is mainly due to technology. Farmers are more productive now with machinery and technology. For manufacturing, I think it is a combination of technology and globalization that sent those jobs down.”

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