Jobs that can be reduced to a series of rules are likely to go — either to workers abroad or to computers. The jobs that stay in the U.S. or that are newly created in the decade ahead are likely to demand the more complex skill of recognizing patterns or require human contact.
New jobs surely will emerge to replace those lost. That’s happened with every past breakthrough in technology and trade. “In 1940,” observes chief White House economist Greg Mankiw, “no one could have predicted that some grandchildren of farmers would become Web-site designers and CAT-scan operators. But they did, and at much higher wages and incomes.”
This time, two different kinds of jobs are likely to flourish amid outsourcing and computerization.
One sort requires physical contact — nursing-home aides, janitors, gardeners, dentists. Foreign-born workers may do them, but they’ll have to move to the U.S.
The other sort of jobs destined to remain here are high-end jobs. Some require exchanging information in ways that e-mail and teleconferencing don’t handle well. Think about teaching first grade or selling a mansion to a multimillionaire or conceiving new forms of software. Others demand such intimate knowledge of the U.S. that it’s hard to see foreigners doing them from afar. Think about marketing to American teenagers or lobbying Congress.