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From "Can the middle class be saved?" in _Atlantic_

 

_The Atlantic_, by Don Peck, September 2011

 

Over time, both trade and technology have increased the number of low-cost substitutes for American workers with only moderate cognitive or manual skills—people who perform routine tasks such as product assembly, process monitoring, record keeping, basic information brokering, simple software coding, and so on. As machines and low-paid foreign workers have taken on these functions, the skills associated with them have become less valuable, and workers lacking higher education have suffered.

 

For the most part, these same forces have been a boon, so far, to Americans who have a good education and exceptional creative talents or analytic skills. Information technology has complemented the work of people who do complex research, sophisticated analysis, high-end deal-making, and many forms of design and artistic creation, rather than replacing that work. And global integration has meant wider markets for new American products and high-value services—and higher incomes for the people who create or provide them.

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