The microeconomic picture of the U.S. has changed immensely since 1973, and the trends
are proving to be consistently downward for the nation's high school graduates and high
school drop-outs. 'Of all the reasons given for the wage squeeze - international
competition, technology, deregulation, the decline of unions and defense cuts - technology
is probably the most critical. It has favored the educated and the skilled,' says M. B.
Zuckerman, editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report (7/31/95). Since 1973, wages
adjusted for inflation have declined by about a quarter for high school dropouts, by a sixth
for high school graduates, and by about 7% for those with some college education. Only
the wages of college graduates are up.
Of the fastest growing technical jobs, software engineering tops the list. Carnegie Mellon
University reports, 'recruitment of it's software engineering students is up this year by over
20%.' All engineering jobs are paying well, proving that highly skilled labor is what
employers want! 'There is clear evidence that the supply of workers in the [unskilled labor]
categories already exceeds the demand for their services,' says L.
Mishel, Research Director
of Welfare Reform Network.
In view of these facts, I wonder if these trends are good or bad for society. 'The danger of
the information age is that while in the short run it may be cheaper to replace workers with
technology, in the long run it is potentially self-destructive because there will not be enough
purchasing power to grow the economy,' M. B. Zuckerman. My feeling is that the trend
from unskilled labor to highly technical, skilled labor is a good one! But, political action
must be taken to ensure that this societal evolution is beneficial to all of us. 'Back in 1970,
a high school diploma could still be a...