Wanted: Smart workers for high-pay positions
Created on August 11, 2008
- For a study of trends in good jobs, click here.
- For a paper on compensation gains, click here.
- For an op-ed on jobs in America, click here.
The job picture
in America isn't nearly as bleak as it's often painted on the
True, good jobs -- as well as bad ones
-- are lost every day. But it's also true that employers are
creating more jobs in high-paying occupations and fewer jobs in
lower-paying occupations. Government data reveal both trends.
"The proportion of Americans
working in the three most highly paid job sectors has expanded 10
percent since 1980," says James Sherk, Heritage's expert in
labor policy. "Most Americans believe they are personally better
off today than a generation ago -- because they are."
Those high-pay job sectors: executive
and managerial, professional specialty, and technical and
In a study from Heritage's Center for Data
Analysis concluding that "good jobs" abound, Sherk traces how technology
and innovation in the past quarter-century alone transformed the
work most Americans do. Repetitive tasks now are automated. Robots
"man" the assembly lines that produce goods and the freight yards
that ship those goods to market. E-mail and voicemail cut into the
work of secretaries.
Part of the good news, even as the unemployment rate in July
reached a four-year high of 5.7 percent: Employers are looking
for more skilled, educated workers to think, create and innovate.
The economy has shifted from jobs requiring physical labor toward
jobs requiring interpersonal skills and brainpower.
"More Americans work as
financial specialists, designers, medical technicians, lawyers and
software developers than ever before," Sherk says. "Though some
good jobs have disappeared, the long-term trend in the economy is
toward higher-paying jobs that take advantage of our educated work
That's one reason to reject calls to
return to 1970s-style higher tax rates, Heritage President Ed Feulner writes in a
"The math is simple: Lower
tax rates encourage more economic growth and lower
unemployment," Feulner says. "Higher tax rates lead to slower
growth and lower wages."