Changes in the Skill Content of American Jobs

Rakesh Kochhar , Pew Research Center
Onyi Lam, Pew Research Center

This paper focuses on the changing need for skills in the American workplace and how that has worked to the benefit (or detriment) of women and men and racial and ethnic groups. In a previous study, we found that employment is growing rapidly in occupations requiring higher levels of social or analytical skills but is near standstill in occupations requiring higher levels of physical skills. Building on that analysis, we will address the following major questions: How has the need for skills changed within occupations? What are the skill characteristics of occupations that have virtually disappeared in the past few decades compared with the occupations that have emerged more recently? As women have surged into the labor force since the 1960s, what are the skill characteristics of the jobs they have taken? Has this helped narrow the gender pay gap? Have white, black and Hispanic workers been affected differently?

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 Presented in Session 169. Flash Session: New Directions in Economy, Labor Force, Education, and Inequality