The evolving U.S. occupational structure
Enghin Atalay, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Phai Phongthiengtham, Ph.D. student in Economics, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Sebastian Sotelo, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Daniel Tannenbaum, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Using the text from help wanted ads, we construct a new data set of occupational task content from 1960 to 2000. We document that within-occupation task content shifts are at least as important as employment shifts across occupations in accounting for the aggregate decline of routine tasks. Motivated by these patterns, we first apply our new task measures to a reduced-form statistical decomposition. We then embed our measures in an equilibrium model of occupational choice. These two exercises indicate that shifts in the relative demand for tasks account for a 25 log point increase in 90-10 earnings inequality over our sample period.