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Effects of Technological Change: Employment Levels and Occupational ShiRs What are the implications of innovations in telecommunications and infor- mation processing, and associated changes in the organization of work, for the availability of jobs to women, particularly over the next 10 years? The previous chapter suggests that these innovations have varying effects on the quantity of jobs in different occupations and industries. Much may depend on how they are implemented and on underlying economic and social conditions. If the new information technologies do adversely affect clerical employment, women will be disproportionately affected. Over the next 10 years, will there be significant displacement of present clerical workers? Will there be sufficient clerical jobs for all those who seek them? Any attempt to look at future effects is, of course, limited; at best, prediction is uncertain, an informed guess. This chapter seeks to reduce that uncertainty. The context of this inquiry is one of substantial controversy in the existing research literature and substantial concern expressed in the media. Some studies predict large relative job losses for clerical workers. For exam- ple, in a major study based on an input-output matrix for the United States with moderate economic growth and with two scenarios of diffusion of computer- based innovations, Leontief and Duchin (1984) predict that employment growth in clerical occupations will be very small relative to growth in the total labor force. With the most rapid diffusion, they projected total employment to grow from 89.2 million person-years in 1978 to 124.1 million in 1990 and to 156.6 million in 2000; clerical employment, however, was projected to grow from 15.9 million in 1978 to only 16.7 million in 1990 and 17.9 million in 2000. Hence, under their assumptions, clerical workers would decline from 17.8 percent of the labor force in 1978 to 13.5 percent in 1990 and to 11.4 percent in 2000. Furthermore, Leontief and Duchin project that if workers 62
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EMPLOYMENT LEVELS AND OCCUPATIONAL SHIFTS 63 continued to train for the mix of skills required in 1978, it is possible that 5 million clerical workers would be unemployed by 1990. Of course, job growth would occur elsewhere: in professional, service, craft, and operative occupa- tions. ~ [though a number of criticisms have been directed at this study (see Hunt and Hunt, 1985a,b; Kraft, 1985), it systematically illustrates one end of the range of predictions. Several economists have noted that the job-creating aspects of new technolo- gies are more difficult to predict than the job-displacing aspects are to observe. In testimony before the House Committee on Science and Technology, Nathan Rosenberg (1983) pointed out that although technological change virtually al- ways involves occupational shifts, it need not involve overall job loss; he sug- gested that current U.S. employment problems are more the result of macroeco- nomic policy than of technological change. Similarly, Eli Ginzberg (1982), introducing the special technology issue of Scientific American, emphasized the job-creating nature of technological change. Without technological ad- vance, economic growth slows and employment declines can occur, especially in industries that fail to innovate. A case in point with respect to clerical work is provided by the finance indus- try, a heavy user of automated information processing and a classic example of technological change that did not result in an employment decline. Between 1972 and 1982, clerical workers as a proportion of all workers employed in the finance industry decreased from 46.1 to 43.9 percent (Hunt and Hunt, 1985a), indicating that it became possible to produce any given output with relatively fewer clerical workers than previously. Office automation may have contrib- uted to this relative reduction in clerical workers. During this same period, however, total employment in the industry expanded substantially from 3.9 million to 5.3 million, an increase of 35.9 percent, about 1.5 times the rate of employment increase in all nonagricultural industries (Bureau of Labor Statis- tics, 1985b) in part because the new technologies facilitated the provision of new and better services to consumers at lower cost. Thus, although clerical employees comprised a smaller proportion of the work force in the finance industry in 1982 than in 1972, the total number of clerical workers employed in the industry rose considerably. Indeed, the increase in clerical jobs in the fi- nance industry over the decade was 37 percent, considerably higher than the 28.8 percent increase in clerical employment for the economy as a whole (Hunt and Hunt, 1985a). PROBLEMS IN EMPLOYMENT PROJECTIONS UNDERLYING FACTORS Of course, no one can be certain whether the pessimistic view, the optimistic view, or something in between will prove most accurate for clerical employ-
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64 COMPUTER CHIPS AND PAPER CLIPS ment over the next 10 years. Four major underlying factors affect this future, some of which can be better predicted than others: (1) the general performance of the economy overall and the associated general employment picture; (2) specific policies that affect women's employment opportunities; (3) changes in the supply of labor; and (4) developments in the available technology. These factors are considered briefly here, in reverse order. The technology that is likely to influence employment in the next decade either has already been developed or its likely parameters are fairly well speci- fied. As described in Chapter 1, the ease of processing and transmitting infor- mation is increasing rapidly as the cost falls. Some uncertainty exists about the rate at which innovations in telematics will diffuse throughout the economy. In the panel's judgment, diffusion will not accelerate over the next 10 years: delib- erate rather than headlong speed seems likely. The keyboard will remain the main mode of data entry; the new integrated workstation will remain unavail- able to all but a few; networking between systems will remain a problem. Of course, unforeseen applications of known technology can alter a situation dra- matically. These technologies do have the potential to contribute very greatly to productivity increases, but they remain relatively untapped. The productivity gains that are possible can be applied in several ways: to develop new products and services, to improve quality, or to cut costs. Only the third way is likely to have substantially negative effects on employment levels, and those will occur only if the lower costs (and prices) do not induce increased demand. The rate of growth of the labor force i.e., changes in the supply of laboris obviously an important factor in its adjustment to technological change. If, for example, labor force growth slows considerably while the rate of economic growth does not change, the economy can more readily absorb workers who may be displaced by technology. If, however, labor force growth remains high, workers displaced by technology will be more likely to remain unemployed along with new entrants and reentrants to the labor force. The people who will enter the labor force during the next decade have already been born, and recent trends in labor force behavior can provide a guide to future behavior. Again, however, unforeseen change is possible. Throughout most of the postwar pe- riod, for example, forecasters consistently underestimated women's labor force participation. Public and private policies in the areas of child care, transporta- tion, training, flex-time, and so on can change basic structural factors that influence people's labor force participation. It is important to note, too, that the education and training of current workers and new entrants to the labor market affect the ease with which they can respond to changing labor market condi- tions. (Future labor supply is examined in greater depth below.) Specific policies that affect women's employment opportunities directly, such as enforcement of equal employment opportunity laws, can have a major impact on the availability of jobs for women. Even if the number of jobs avail-
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EMPLOYMENT LEVELS AND OCCUPATIONAL SHIFTS 65 able in occupations and industries that have been dominated by women fall or experience slower growth in the next decade, if women's opportunities increase elsewhere in the labor market, the effect of the shrinkage of traditional employ- ment for women would be mitigated. Currently there is some uncertainty about the equal employment opportunity enforcement effort. Women made substan- tial progress in integrating many occupations, particularly in the last decade (see Blau and Ferber, 1986; Reskin and Hartmann, 1986), and it seems likely that some progress will continue. The general performance of the U.S. economy is perhaps the most important factor in assessing future job opportunities for women (or men). If economic growth is rapid and demand for labor is high, all those whose jobs become outmoded by technological change will almost certainly be able to find new ones. But if overall economic performance is sluggish, replacement jobs will be hard to find, and the costs of adjusting to job loss that is due to technological change will be high in both economic and human terms. Future economic performance is difficult to predict because it depends so heavily not only on national economic factors but also on the outcome of politi- cal processes and international economic developments, such as the volume and nature of trade, the strength of the dollar, and the success of OPEC in controlling the price of oil. Among important public policies that affect the general health of the economy and the overall demand for labor are fiscal and monetary policies that influence interest rates, the deficit, and inflation and tax policies, tariffs, and other statutory incentives and disincentives that influence the development and use of innovations and so alter capital/labor ratios. All these policies affect the development of new technologies and the rate at which they are used. And government policies, in turn, are influenced by alterations in political and social commitment to providing full employment. The panel made no attempt to predict fixture economic growth, but the dis- cussion in the rest of this chapter implicitly assumes modest growth rates over the next 10 years. In the panel's judgment, this assumption is a reasonable basis on which to gauge the effect of technological change on women's employment. But it is possible that the economic future could be vastly different, and technol- ogy could play a different role in that future. If economic performance deterio- rates and economic pressures on employers intensify, the productivity gains made possible by the new technologies are likely to be applied to cost cutting, and substantial technological displacement might occur, along with the cyclical unemployment that would result from poor overall economic performance. Whatever the impact of technological change and economic growth on the levels of employment, their impact on occupational shifts is less ambiguous. Technological change and economic growth invariably generate shifts in de- mand for workers in various occupations. Clearly, a healthy economy will con- tribute to the ease of adjustment to these shifts.
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66 COMPUTER CHIPS AND PAPER CLIPS DATA PROBLEMS Another source of uncertainty in discussing the employment effects of tech- nological change is the inadequacy of the available data for studying the con- nection between technology and employment. The data are inadequate for as- sessing the impact of technological change on both the quantity and quality of employment. To assess changes in employment opportunities or outcomes with any degree of confidence in the generalizability of the results requires data from a represen- tative sample of jobs in a local or national labor market, with jobs grouped into occupational categories on the basis of some standard occupational classifica- tion scheme. But none of the existing occupational classification schemes e.g., those of the Bureau of the Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, or the Standard Occupational Classifica- tion (SOC)was designed with the assessment of technological change as an important consideration. These schemes are also inconsistent with one another. Moreover, they are updated periodically (the decennial census classification, for example, is revised for each new census) without systematic attention to the way technological changes have redefined the task content of jobs. A specific example illustrates the difficulties. Suppose one wanted to deter- mine how widespread the use of word processing was by 1980. In principle, this is the sort of question it should be possible to answer from 1980 census data. It is impossible to do so, however, because the 1980 census classification has no separate category for "word processors." Formerly they were included in the category "typists." For the 1980 census, because word processors work with computer technologies, the Census Bureau decided to reclassify them with keypunch operators, as does the SOC. This change was also implemented in the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS), but not until 1983. The change in the SOC is a dramatic one, affecting major occupational groups as well as more detailed categories such as typist or keypunch operator; 1980 data are now not generally comparable with earlier censuses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' periodic reports on the labor force would be of no greater help, because they are generally based on the Current Population Survey (which has too small a sam- ple size for reliable data on the numbers of workers who use word processors) and because the classification also does not identify "word processors" sepa- rately. Furthermore, none of the classifications in use would identify workers who use word processing as an auxiliary part of their jobs for example, writ- ers, editors, managers. Thus, there is no direct means of tracing the adoption and use of this new technology. Of course, industry statistics on the sale of stand-alone word processors and on the sale of word-processing programs for general-purpose microcomputers would allow some basis for an estimate, but such statistics can reveal nothing about which categories of workers use word
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EMPLOYMENT LEVELS AND OCCUPATIONAL SHIFTS 67 processors, how many workers share each workstation, and so on, or how the organization of work has changed in response to the introduction of such equip- ment. The fundamental problem is that information on technology is not linked to information on workers in currently available data (see Hunt and Hunt, 1985b). The inconsistencies across time, data sets, and agencies cause difficulty even in analyzing categories such as secretaries or clerical workers, let alone word processors. Although BLS uses "census categories" in the household data col- lected in the Current Population Survey, it uses other classification systems in other data collection efforts. The area wage surveys, for example, rely on the categories used by the employers being surveyed. (Some of these may even identify word processors separately.) A third data collection effort, the Occupa- tional Employment Statistics (OES) program, the biennial surveys of establish- ments that form the basis for the occupational projections, uses yet another classification scheme. Consequently, the numbers that are developed from the data sets sometimes differ widely for the same occupational category. For example, according to OES data, there were 2,797,000 secretaries in 1984 (Silvestri and Lukasiewicz, 1985~; according to the annual averages from the CPS monthly data published in Employment and Earnings (January 1985), there were 3,935,000. Although the OES classification system is different from the CPS, the difference probably does not stem from differences in the defini- tion of "secretary" between the two systems but from differences between self- reporting (CPS) and employer reporting (OES). For another example, OES data show a total of 18,716,000 administrative support workers in 1984 (17.5 percent of the civilian employed labor force of 106.8 million), while the CPS total is 16,722,000 (15.9 percent of the total of 105.0 million). In the 1980 census, the count was 16,851,000 (or 18.5 percent of the labor force). To address some of these data problems, the panel commissioned a study on recent and future trends in clerical occupations from H. Allan Hunt and Timo- thy L. Hunt (1985a) of the Upjohn Institute. They developed a reasonably consistent set of occupational categories for clerical workers across the 1950- 1980 censuses. To look at more recent trends, they use CPS data for the 1972- 1982 period, and they sometimes report 1983-1984 CPS data separately be- cause they are not compatible with earlier data. In looking at projections, they use the BLS projections based on OES data. Their estimates form the basis for the panel's discussion later in this chapter. Some of the same concerns apply to the assessment of employment quality, which is discussed in Chapter 4. There are several systems of inquiring about the quality of work life: the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, the Quality of Employment Survey, and numerous disparate surveys on job satisfaction. None has emerged as the clearly dominant method for measuring quality, and none is likely to do so. Moreover, there has been no systematic attempt to link employ-
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68 COMPUTER CHIPS AND PAPER CLIPS ment quality to specific technologies used on the job, although occasional pri- vate attempts have been made, e.g., the survey of women who do and do not use video display terminals that was taken of the readership of women's maga- zines (9-to-5, 1984a). There is at present no way of knowing how many jobs are affected by technological changes, much less what the effects are. A statistical system that does not distinguish between typing on a typewriter and data entry on a word processor or keypunch machine is inadequate as a basis for determining the extent of technological change in the office. The point is not limited to office jobs, of course, but pertains equally to many categories of jobs affected by technological changes. The lack of an adequate data base requires that one maintain a healthy skepticism regarding research on both the quantity and quality of the employment effects of technological change. This chapter next turns to further examination of the supply of labor, particu- larly women's labor. It then reviews recent trends in clerical employment as a base from which to understand future possibilities. The following section re- views several aggregate projections of demand for clerical labor, illustrating a "most plausible worst case scenario" that the panel believes places a lower limit on the likely demand for clerical employment in 1995. Employment pro- jections for specific subfields of clerical work and likely occupational shifts and changes in skill requirements are also discussed. The conclusion attempts to link information about supply and demand to assess the impact of technological change and other factors on employment levels in clerical jobs, currently the dominant source of jobs for women. THE SUPPLY OF WOMEN WORKERS LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES The future supply of women workers is a function of the number of women and the rates at which different groups of women participate in the labor force. The number of women is determined by the fertility that prevailed 16 or more years earlier, by women's current mortality rates, and by the net balance of women's immigration and emigration. Of these factors, of course, the first is generally dominant. Women (and men) who will be at work in 1995 have al- ready been born. Barring unforeseen developments in mortality or immigra- tion, we can project fairly confidently the number of women of working age in 1995 (see, for example, Bureau of the Census, n.d.~. In addition, knowledge of fertility, mortality, and migration permits one to project current and future age distributions, which is important because women's labor force participation rates vary by age. Current projections by the Census Bureau indicate that the working-age pop- ulation will continue to grow, although at a slower rate than in the recent past.
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EMPLOYMENT LEVELS AND OCCUPATIONAL SHIFTS 69 The slowdown is primarily a result of the fact that the baby boom generation has come of age and already entered the labor force. The population cohorts reach- ing working age over the next 10 years will not be as large. If labor force participation rates remained constant by age, the projected average age of the labor force would also nse. The rates at which women will participate in the labor force are, however, much more difficult to project. Two factors contribute to the difficulty: the variations in participation rates among groups of women and the rapid increases in participation rates among almost all women. The rates at which women participate in the labor force have historically varied according to women's ages, their potential wage rates, marital status, husband's income if mamed, level of education, and presence and age of children. The rates have also dif- fered by racial and ethnic group. Labor force participation rates have histon- cally been highest for women aged 20-24; for unmamed or divorced women; for well-educated women; and for women without children, especially young children, at home (Bureau of the Census, 1985:Tables 671, 673, 675~. 'The rates for black women have historically been higher than those for white women, and white women's rates have been somewhat higher than those for most women of Spanish origin (who may be of any race). In 1984 the labor force participation rate for black women was 55.2; for white women it was 53.3; and for women of Spanish origin it was 49.6 (Bureau of the Census, 1985 : Tables 660 and 670~. But there can be marked differences within a group: for example, in 1984 the Cuban women's participation rate was 55.1, higher than that for any other group of Spanish origin and higher than the rate for all white women. (For a description of racial and ethnic differences in women's rates, see Sullivan, 1978.) And although differences in rates among groups of women have persisted, there has been a pronounced, and largely unanticipated, increase in the labor force participation rates among all groups of women. While no single reason for this increase can be identified, many recent eco- nomic, social, and cultural changes are conducive to it. Among demographic changes, lower levels of fertility and the greater use of child care have made it easier for mothers of young children to hold jobs; at Between 1985 and 1990, the population over the age of 16 will increase by about4.8 percent for both men and women. The rate of growth will slow between 1990 and 1995 to around 3.8 percent, with the male population growing at a slightly higher rate of 3.9 percent (calculated from Bureau of the Census, n.d. :43, 53, 63, 73; middle series of projections). During the five years from 1995 to 2000, as the children of the baby boom enter the labor force, a growth of 4.4 percent in the female working-age population and 4.6 percent in the male working-age population is projected. In 1985 the working-age population is estimated at 95.3 million women and 87.7 million men; by 2000 the projected population will be 108.3 million women and 99.9 million men. Principally as a result of recent fertility trends, the median age of the population will rise from 32.7 for women and 30.2 for males in 1985 to 34.9 for men and 37.7 for women in 2000.
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70 COMPUTER CHIPS AND PAPER CLIPS least one study suggests that further improvements in child care would encour- age even more such mothers to work (Presser and Baldwin, 19801. Later ages at marriage and at first childbearing have enabled many women to gain greaterjob seniority and so perhaps increased their commitment to work outside the home. Among factors related to financial need, inflation and husbands' unemploy- ment or the erosion of husbands' real wages may have encouraged some wives to enter the labor force or to remain in it. Financial pressures are also a factor in decisions by divorcees or widows to reenter the labor force. Moreover, in- creases in marital instability in the past several decades may have encouraged some women to maintain their work roles as a source of financial indepen- dence. Institutional changes, including legal action against sex discrimination and sexual harassment in education and employment, greater equity in pensions and other fringe benefits, and greater availability of maternity leave, may also have played a role in the higher participation rates. Cultural change, coincident with the rise of the feminist movement and reflected in the changed aspirations and expectations of women, may be especially significant. As more women work, employment becomes the norm; there are changes in attitudes toward women's work and the role of work in adults' lives. These changes have probably encour- aged more women to remain in the labor force. Finally, some analysts have argued that shifts in labor demand have in- creased opportunities for "women's jobs" (Oppenheimer, 1970~. Although it is difficult to demonstrate that women entered or stayed in the labor force because of the availability of jobs, it is significant that very large numbers of the same kinds of workers who had traditionally held certain jobs arrived in the labor market just at the time of highest demand for those jobs. PROJECTIONS OF LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES Given the number of influences that might be affecting women's labor force participation rates, it is very difficult to make assumptions about trends in the rates. Hence, projections of future labor supply do not have a firm basis. While the number of women of working age is well known and relatively easy to project, past projections underestimated the rapid increases in the rates and therefore in women's labor supply. Because no one can predict whether the participation rates will continue to increase or at what rate they will change, projections of women's labor supply are uncertain. By contrast, projections of men's labor supply have been relatively accurate because a basic assumption has been reliable: after completing their education, very high proportions more than 75 percent of all working-age males will remain in the labor force until retirement age. This assumption holds almost without regard to men's marital status, education, or any other characteristic except health status, al-
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EMPLOYMENT LEVELS AND OCCUPATIONAL SHIFTS TABLE 3-1 Actual and Projected Labor Force Participation Rates for Women Aged 16 and Older by Race, 1970-1995 Year All Women Whites Blacksa 1970 43.3 42.6 49.5 1975 46.3 45.9 48.9 1980 51.5 51.2 53.2 1984 53.6 53.3 55.2 990b 56.6 n.a. ma. 1995b 58.9 58.4 62.7 aIn 1970, refers to "blacks and other races." bProjected rates. SOURCES: Data for 1970, 1975, 1980, and 1984 from Bureau of the Cen- sus (1985:Table 660); data for 1990 and 1995 from Fullerton (1985:Tables 2 and 3). 71 though black men have lower labor force participation rates (by about 5 to 10 percent) than white men at all ages. The best available current projections are those of BLS. Table 3- 1 presents women's labor force participation rates between 1970 and 1984 and projected rates for 1990 and 1995. These projections are probably the most responsible professional estimates of labor force participation rates, but it should be noted that rates rose so quickly after 1970 that labor force projections for 1985 were surpassed during the 1970s. The estimated size of the female labor force in 1990 would be 55.5 million and in 1995 it would be 59.9 million; in compar~- son, in 1984 the size was approximately 49.7 million. Table 3-2 provides the same information for men for the same time period. TABLE 3-2 Actual and Projected Labor Force Participation Rates of Men Aged 16 and Older by Race, 1970-1995 Year All Men Whites Blacksa 1970 79.7 80.0 76.5 1975 77.9 78.7 71.0 1980 77.4 78.2 70.6 1984 76.4 77.1 70.8 1990b 75.8 ma. n.a. 1995b 75.3 75.8 69.5 aIn 1970, refers to "blacks and other races." bProjected rates. SOURCES: Data for 1970, 1975, 1980, and 1984 from Bureau of the Cen- sus (1985:Table 660); data for 1990 and 1995 from Fullerton (1985:Tables 3 and 4).
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72 COMPUTER CHIPS AND PAPER CLIPS TABLE 3-3 Size of Civilian Labor Force, Proportion Female, and Actual and Projected Growth Rates, 1970-1995 . Labor Force Growtha (average annual rate of change) Civilian Proportion Civilian Labor Force Female Labor Male Female Year (millions) (percent) Force Workers Workers _ . 1970 82.8 38.2 - - 1975 93.8 40.0 2.5 1.9 3.5 1980 106.9 42.5 2.7 1.8 4.0 1984 1 13.5 43.8 1.5 1.0 2.2 0b 122.7 45.3 I.3 0.8 I.9 1995b 129.2 46.4 1.0 0.6 1.5 aAnnual rate of growth from the preceding date. bProjected data. SOURCE: Fullerton (1985:Table 1). Although the overall male labor force participation rate is projected to be higher than the overall female rate in every year, the male rate is projected to decline slightly, largely because of earlier retirement. Steeper declines occurred among both black and white males between 1970 and 1984 than are expected to occur from 1985 to 1995. Tables 3-1 and 3-2, taken together, strongly suggest that men will account for a declining proportion ofthe labor force. Summary projec- tions, shown in Table 3-3, show an increase in the proportion of the labor force that is female and consistently higher growth rates in the female labor force. However, growth of both the male and female labor force is expected to decline after 1985. For the 1970-1984 period, the number of women in the civilian labor force grew at an annual rate nearly twice as large as that anticipated between 1985 and 1995. PROJECTIONS OF AGE-SPECIFIC RATES Along with a general increase in women's rates of participation at most ages, some changes in the patterns of age-specific labor force participation are being projected for the next 15 years. For most of the postwar period, women's labor force participation rates peaked at ages 20-24, dropped at ages 25-34, and rose again at ages 35-54. The drop in rates at ages 25-34 was attributed to with- drawal from the labor force for childbearing. In 1970, 57.7 percent of women aged 20-24 were in the labor force, the rate dropped almost 13 points, to 45.0 percent, for women aged 25-34 and then rose 6 points, to 51.1 percent, for women aged 35-44. In every year since 1970, the percentage of women in the labor force at ages
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118 COMPUTER CHIPS AND PAPER CLIPS all clerical workers, with a change in the staffing ratio having a slightly negative effect for secretaries (as it does for all clerical workers in this projection) and an even smaller positive effect for general office clerks. In the 1983 BLS esti- mates, the projected growth rates in these two large clerical occupations, and for clerical workers generally, are approximately equal to those projected for total employment. The projected growth for secretaries is entirely consistent with the historical data (except for the apparent decline of secretaries in 1982, which may have been caused by the recession). In the 1985 projections, BLS reduced the estimated growth of secretaries from 1984 to 1995 to 9.5 percent, identical to the growth projected for all clerical work. The projected growth of secretaries and clerical employment generally is only about two-thirds the growth rate projected for total employment. The new estimate represents a decline of about 100,000 secretaries from the 1983 projection, but it would still result in an increase of almost 300,000 secretaries by 1995. Clearly the econ- omy will still need new workers trained in secretarial skills. In the 1983 projections, the fastest-growing clerical jobs are computer opera- tors, peripheral electronic data processing (EDP) equipment operators, medical insurance clerks, credit clerks in banking and insurance, credit authorizers, insurance checkers, receptionists, claims adjusters, cashiers, and survey work- ers. Employment growth in these occupations is expected to range from 48.2 to 76.1 percent between 1982 and 1995. Many of these occupations are expected to experience staffing ratio changes equivalent to employment increases of 20 percent or more. This list reflects in part the obvious technological impacts of computers, but it also reflects the continuing or increased importance of inter- action between a worker and a customer being served. Cashiers, for example, may replace other sales workers. As Hunt and Hunt put it (1985a:5-171: "A world of both high-tech and high touch is anticipated." Although various elec- tronic office technologies have the capacity to replace some aspects of human interaction for example, by automatic bank tellers, partially automated tele- phone number announcements, or computerized ad takers at newspapers cus- tomers may be resistant to using these devices, or the variety in transactions may make them less widely applicable than now anticipated. As Hunt and Hunt note, the fact that such devices can be developed does not guarantee that they will be, or that they will prove to be profitable if they are developed. The occupations expected to experience the largest percentage declines by 1995 are central office telephone operators, postal service clerks, data-entry operators, stenographers, security workers and purchase and sales clerks, and postal mail carriers. The effects of staffing ratio changes are expected to be large and negative in these occupations. Projected declines in employment for postal mail carriers (a loss of 11,000 jobs) and postal service clerks (a loss of 55,000 jobs) reflect both the large, negative effects of declining staffing ratios (largely due to technological change) and well below average industry growth
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EMPLOYMENT LEVELS AND OCCUPATIONAL SHIFTS 119 (probably due to increased competition from other forms of communication services and other mail services). The effect of a large negative staffing ratio change is expected to reduce employment for data-entry operators (despite a positive industry effect) by about 10 percent, or 34,000 jobs. This decline re- flects both the use of new technologies to perform the same work (for example, optical character reading) and the capability of new technologies to shift work to others (for example, consumers or professional and managerial staff). Other occupations expected to experience large, negative effects of staffing ratio changes include in-file operators, file clerks, credit reporters, brokerage clerks, and survey workers. Some of these occupations will nevertheless experience positive employment growth because of strong industry demand and overall economic growth. The number of survey workers, for example, is expected to grow substantially (48.2 percent), although the effect of staffing ratio changes alone would be negative ~22.1 percent). It seems likely that rapid technologi- cal change is contributing to increased demand for surveys (along with de- creased labor input per dollar of output). The occupations of credit reporters (34.4 percent growth) and brokerage clerks (23.0 percent growth) may reflect similar changes. Other occupations that will experience slow growth, such as file clerks, are simply continuing a decline begun in the 1960s or 1970s. Many of the declining and slow growing occupations are back-of~ce jobs that require little or no direct contact with the customer and may have ready technological explanations: file clerks, stenographers, data-entry operators, and central of- fice telephone operators. Many of these occupations are held disproportion- ately by minority womenpostal service clerks, file clerks, data-entry opera- tors, and telephone operators. These anticipated shifts among clerical suboccupations make it clear that the slowdown in projected growth for clerical workers will not affect all such work- ers equally. Some will be in even greater demand, some less so. Some occupa- tions will decrease, but it is important to note that none of the absolute decreases shown in Table 3- 18 is expected to be especially large. A preliminary comparison of 1983 and 1985 BLS projections for 1995 em- ployment in detailed clerical occupations shows that in several occupations BLS has projected larger declines than those suggested by the slowdown in employment growth overall (which is a 3.4 percent decrease, based on data published in Silvestri et al., 1983, and in Silvestri and Lukasiewicz, 1985~. In many occupations, however, greater growth is now projected. But comparisons are extremely difficult because of changes in the classification of OES data on which the projections are based. Table 3-19 shows comparisons for those occu- pations that could be straightforwardly matched and in which the projected changes in 1995 employment were significant and negative. The largest per- centage changes between the 1983 and 1985 projections include stenographers, statistical clerks, directory assistance operators, central office operators, and
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120 Cal o · _ .: PA U. .o Cal ._ V) so o ~9 Cal o Cal m lo: ._ Us v o C) Cal ._ 3 lo: o ._ ~ Do C) C) U. At oo ·c V 3 ~ a.' m me ~ o -em C) C) ~ ~ -A ~ ~ _ £ au UP on o o .O _. oo ~ Be, ~ £ oo ~ ~ _ oo ~ U~3 ~ oo ON ', ~4 . . . . . . . . . . . . C'l oo t t '] ~ O 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 o oo o o o o o o o o oo o ~ ~ c~ ~ ~ ~ ~ - ~ oo ~ ~ o ~ - ~ - ~ ~t ~ ~ - ~ OY 1 1 1 1 1 - 1 1 1 1 1 o o o oo o o o o oo o o o _ O ~D oo ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ oo ~ ~ ~ O ~ ~ ~ ~D \0 - - ~ o ~ ~ ~ ~ o~ - ~ o o oo o o o o o oo o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ oo - - ~ - In - ~ \`o oo - ~ o`' ~t <~ ~ ') - ~ o o o oo o o o oo o o o o t_ ~ ~ _ ~ ON a~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o ~ ~ ~ ~ oo ~ ~ ~ oo o o o o o o o o o oo oo o oo oo ~ ~ - o ~ ~ - ~ - ~ ~ ~ o o ~ ox ~ OY c~ ~ - ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ c~ o ~ c ~ ~ ~ o ·= ·s m ~ ~ ^~ ~ ~ .~ ~ ~ ~ =.3 ~ E ~= ~ C) "D ;^ :: o ,.' ~ C~ U~ oo _ .~ .O 3 .O U, C5 ~: ~i Ct .,_ U2 ;> C~ c5 oo - - ct c) .c u, c) - .= e ~o ct ct .. v)
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EMPLOYMENT LEVELS AND OCCUPATIONAL SHIFTS 121 payroll and timekeeping clerks. For secretaries, teachers' aides, and computer operators, the lower levels of 1995 employment are in keeping with BLS esti- mates of slower growth overall. Which clerical occupations are likely to experience the largest increases in employment, especially for women? The latest published projections (Silvestri and Lukasiewicz, 1985) combined with data on the proportion of females in each occupation from the 1980 census yield the employment increases for women shown in Table 3-20. As the table shows, several of the slower-grow- ing, but large, female clerical occupations provide the largest job growth: sec- retanes, general office clerks, and bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks. A fair degree of uncertainty surrounds all these projections, however. The impact of technological change could be either more or less than is now supposed. Projections for many occupations have been substantially changed by BLS between 1983 and 1985, generally downward. Substantial absolute declines are projected for stenographers (87,000 jobs for women, a 40.3 per- cent decline), postal service clerks (lO,OOO jobs, an 8.5 percent decline), statis- tical clerks (9,OOO jobs, a 12.7 percent decline), payroll and timekeeping clerks (9,000 jobs, a 5 percent decline), and central office operators (8,000 jobs, an TABLE 3-20 Clencal Occupations with Largest Projected Job Growth for Women, 1984-1995 Change in Female Employment,C Employmentb 1984-1995 (thousands) Number Occupation (and Percent Femalea) 1984 1995 (thousands) Percent Secretaries (98.8) 2,797 3,064 265 9.6 General office clerks (82.1) 2,398 2,629 190 9.6 Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks (89.7) 1,973 2,091 106 6.0 Switchboard operators (91.0) 347 447 91 28.7 Teachers' aides and educational assistants (92.7) 479 566 82 18.3 Receptionists and information clerks (93.4) 458 542 78 18.2 Computer operators, excluding peripheral equipment operators (58.9) 241 353 65 46.1 Order clerks, material, merchandise and services (67.4) 297 355 38 19.2 Billing, posting, and labeling machine operators (87.1) 234 272 33 16.2 Billing, cost, and rate clerks (80.7) 216 254 31 17.5 aPercent female from 1980 census data (Hunt and Hunt, 1985a:Table 2.4). bData from Silvestri and Lukasiewicz (1985:Table 2). CEstimates of job growth for women are conservative; because the percentage female is likely to grow by 1995 in many of these occupations, these numbers underestimate job growth for women.
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122 COMPUTER CHIPS AND PAPER CLIPS 11.5 percent decline). In sum, slow growth is now expected to be even slower, and declines in some occupations will be significant. One area of anticipated rapid growth for clerical workers is the temporary help industry. Between the trough of the recession in 1982 and December 1985, the number of employees working for firms that supply temporary personnel nearly doubled, making it one of the fastest-growing industries with more than 50,000 workers (Carey and Hazelbaker, 1986~. Of the industry's 735,000 em- ployees, more than half are involved in office occupations (other significant areas of temporary personnel include industrial, medical, and engineering oc- cupations). Continued strong growth is expected, but at less than the very rapid rate experienced between 1982 and 1984 when the industry probably benefited from the recovery of the recession; as the recovery continues, employers may be more likely to hire workers on their regular payrolls. The BLS moderate- trend projections estimate annual growth for the industry at 5 percent through 1995, higher then the 4.2 percent annual rate estimated for all business services industries, and much higher than the overall estimated annual increase of 1.2 percent. Employment is expected to be 1,060,000 by 1995 (Carey and Ha- zelbaker, 19861. The employment figure can be thought of as the average num- ber of daily placements. The number of people working for temporary agencies during a year is much larger; one estimate put it at more than 5 million for 1984 (Appelbaum, 1985~. According to Appelbaum's study, the dominant motive of employers in hiring temporary rather than permanent workers is cost cutting: hiring, training, and fringe benefit costs are generally reduced. Appelbaum believes the dominant motive of temporary workers, especially women work- ers, is to obtain flexible scheduling. In Appelbaum's view there are disadvan- tages as well as advantages to temporary help, for both employers and employ- ees. Employees receive fewer fringe benefits and are unlikely to experience the earnings growth that normally accompanies seniority with an employer. Em- ployers, Appelbaum believes, may be forgoing the opportunity to restructure work in the most efficient and productive manner in the long run as they opt for short-term cost savings. Whatever the advantages and disadvantages of tempo- ra~y work, observers agree that employment growth in this sector is likely to remain strong. Given the overall slow growth predicted in clerical occupations generally, the rapid increase predicted in temporary employment constitutes a shift in clerical employment from permanent to temporary work. Because it is of interest to compare growth in clerical jobs with opportunities elsewhere in the economy, Table 3-21 presents the 20 occupations that are expected to experience the largest growth of jobs by 1995 throughout the entire labor market. In percentage terms their growth rates for the 1984-1995 period vary from 9.6 percent for secretaries and general office clerks to 71.7 percent for computer programmers. A number of the top 20 occupations are related to computers, and several others are related to preparing and serving food, to sales
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EMPLOYMENT LEVELS AND OCCUPATIONAL SHIFTS TABLE 3-21 Occupations with the Largest Job Growth, Bureau of Labor Statistics Projections, 1984-1995 123 Employment (thousands) Occupation Cashiers Registered nurses Janitors and cleaners, including maid and housekeeping cleaners Truck drivers Waiters and waitresses Wholesale trade sales workers Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants 1984 1995 1,902 2,469 1,377 1,829 Change in employment 1984-1995 Number (thousands) Percent of Total Job Growth Percent 1984-1995 3.6 2.8 2,940 3,383 2,484 2,911 1,625 2,049 1,248 1,617 Salespersons, retail Accountants and auditors Teachers, kindergarten and elementary Secretaries Computer programmers General office clerks Food preparation workers, excluding fast food 987 Food preparation and service workers, fast food 1,201 Computer systems analysts, electronic data processing Electrical and electronics engineers Electrical and electronics 1,204 1,552 2,732 3,075 882 1,189 1,381 1,662 2,797 3,064 341 586 2,398 2,629 308 520 390 566 452 443 428 424 369 348 343 307 281 268 245 231 1.205 219 1,417 215 212 597 206 29.8 32.8 15.1 17.2 26.1 29.6 28.9 12.6 34.8 20.3 9.6 71.7 9.6 17.9 68.7 52.8 2.8 2.7 2.7 2.3 2.2 2.2 1.9 1.9 1.7 1.5 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.3 1.3 technicians and technologists 404 607 202 50.0 1.3 Guards 733 921 188 25.6 1.2 Automotive and motorcycle mechanics 922 1,107 185 20.1 1.2 SOURCE: Office of Technology Assessment (1986: Table 8A-1). in general, and to health care. Janitors and cleaners, truck drivers, accountants and auditors, and teachers are also included. Clearly the large-growth occupa- tions include both those that require substantial education and training (regis- tered nurses, electrical and electronics engineers) and those that do not (cash- iers, fast-food workers). The slowest-growing of these occupations are the clerical occupations.
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24 COMPUTER CHIPS AND PAPER CLIPS JOB LOSS AND DISPLACED WORKERS The slower growth projected for clerical workers overall, combined with the anticipated decreases in some clerical subfields and the specific employment losses observed in some instances of automation (see, e.g., Appelbaum, 1984; Gutek and Bikson, 1985), indicate the need for considering programs that will help workers shift occupations as necessary. The relative disappearance of back-off~ce jobs and continued growth in jobs with greater customer contact suggest that workers may benefit from help in identifying their oral communi- cation skills and developing them for transition to jobs with more customer contact. It is difficult to know how the slower growth overall and the occupational shifts anticipated in clerical work will translate into unemployment, if at all. Some of those who lose specific jobs will remain with their employers; even if many are displaced (laid off more or less permanently), substantial unemploy- ment may not result if those who lose jobs find new ones quickly. Because of intense interest in the question of displaced workers during the recessions of the early 1980s, BLS added a special supplement to the January 1984 Current Population Survey (Flaim and Sehgal, 19851. Respondents from about 60,000 households were asked whether any adult member of the house- hold had experienced job loss since 1979 because of a plant closing, an em- ployer going out of business, or lack of recall from a layoff. The results show that from 1979 to 1983, nearly 1 1 million nonagricultural workers lost jobs; this represented about 12 percent of annual employment based on payroll data, a proportion much larger than previous estimates obtained from less complete information (Podgursky, 1986~. Podgursky's analysis of a sample ofthe displaced workers (those aged 20-61 and displaced no later than December 1982) finds that a substantial proportion found jobs within 15 weeks (about 40 percent) and a substantial proportion remained jobless for more than 52 weeks (about 26 percent). Relative to their representation in the total labor force, the displaced workers were dispropor- tionately blue-collar workers from manufacturing; white-collar and service workers constituted 39 percent of those displaced. Whether white-collar or blue-collar, women remained jobless longer than men; white-collar workers had less joblessness than blue-collar workers, and more women worked in white-collar than in blue-collar jobs. The industries that are especially large employers of clerical workers (for example, government and finance) had much less displacement than others. An analysis of a somewhat different sample of the displaced workers in the same survey (Flaim and Sehgal, 1985) showed that clerical workers fared somewhat better than average in replacing their former earnings. In general, however, reemployment incurred earnings losses for nearly everyone (average
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EMPLOYMENT LEVELS AND OCCUPATIONAL SHIFTS 125 losses for full-time workers were 12 percent in white-collar and 15 percent in blue-collar jobs; Podgursky and Swaim, 19861. Both women and blacks had longer periods of joblessness, and workers with below-average education had larger earnings losses on reemployment. Better-paid and more senior workers faced larger losses, as did those who were reemployed in different occupations or industries. Some 15 to 20 percent of the displaced workers had participated in education or training programs, most often paid for either by themselves or their employers. CONCLUSION This review of recent and future trends in labor force growth and clerical employment suggests that technological change is likely to contribute to em- ployment problems for women, but that massive job loss is unlikely to occur. Clerical jobs will experience slower growth in the aggregate than they have in the recent past, and shifts in the demand for various clerical occupations will occur. Some increased structural unemployment may result. Between 1958 and 1968, clerical employment grew considerably more rap- idly than total employment: clerical workers increased their share of total em- ployment from 14.5 to 17.5 percent. Between 1970 and 1980, however, growth was slower: clerical workers increased only from 17.5 to 18.5 percent. And, since 1980, their share of total employment has remained the same. In the "most plausible worst case" scenario developed by the panel the largest plau- sible negative impact of information technology on clerical employment, based on the largest historic negative effect in any industry using the November 1985 BLS projections of slower employment growth overall, clerical employ- ment by 1995 would have lost at most 2 percentage points of its share of total employment. Clerical employment would increase by 2.0 million jobs, or an increase of 10.5 percent, between 1982 and 1995. This growth rate is one-third that of the historic growth rate of clerical employment between 1972 and 1982 (about 0.7 percent per year compared with 2.3 percent per year). Labor supply is also expected to grow more slowly after 1985, but not as slowly as clerical employment would in the most plausible worst case. Labor force growth will decline to about one-half its growth in the previous decade. Thus, women are expected to enter the labor force somewhat faster than clerical jobs are now expected to grow. In this case, a larger proportion of women than in the past would have to find work in nonclerical occupations. Since women have been integrating formerly male-dominated occupations, the panel does not think such a change would be difficult. In any event, the panel does not foresee massive technologically induced unemployment among clerical work- ers or would-be clerical workers, and if the economy grows at an average rate, opportunities in other areas should be sufficient for women to shift occupations.
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126 COMPUTER CHIPS AND PAPER CLIPS This finding, coupled with the panel's review of the shifts among clerical sub- fields, supports the need for programs that will assist workers with transition. As noted above, back-off~ce jobs appear to be declining relatively, and in some cases absolutely, while those that require greater contact with customers are increasing relatively. This differential change is likely to pose a particular hard- ship for minority women, who hold relatively more of the declining jobs. For all women, the slower growth and likely shifts point to the need for sound basic education in core competencies, such as reasoning ability, problem solving, and communication, to prepare workers for the jobs likely to be created. Since technical occupations, such as those related to operating computer equipment, will also grow relatively rapidly, good technical training will also be important.
Representative terms from entire chapter: