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Recent Trends in Clerical Employment: The Impact of Technological Change H. ALLAN HUNT and TIMOTHY L. HUNT THE GROWTH OF CLERICAL AND FEMALE EMPLOYMENT Clerical jobs are the largest single occupational group in the economy; they are also one of the most diverse. Generally people associate the traditional office occupations with the term "cleri- cal." Indeed, secretaries, typists, stenographers, file clerks, office machine operators, and receptionists do make up a large propor- tion of all clerical workers. But bookkeepers and bank tellers are also clerical workers according to the Bureau of the Census, as are bill collectors, insurance adjusters, postal carriers, factory expediters, and most enumerators and interviewers. The tremendous growth in the number of clerical workers in the United States is well known, but the true magnitude of this expansion cannot be appreciated without comparing it to the growth in total employment. Figure 1 shows that the proportion Facts and-observations presented in this document are the sole respon- sibility of the authors. The viewpoints do not necessarily represent positions of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. 223

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224 0.20 0.18 0.16 O 0 14 _ . o o C: J Cal J 0.12 0.10 0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02 o RECENT TRENDS IN CLERICAL EMPLOYMENT ; _ 1 940 1 950 1 960 1 970 1 980 YEAR FIGURE 1 Decadal growth in clerical employment as a proportion of total employment, 1940-1980. Source: Hunt and Hunt (1986~; based on 1940-1980 census data. of clerical workers in total employment has doubled in the last 40 years, from just under 1 employee in 10 in 1940 to 1 in 5 by 1980. However, the general recessionary conditions of the last 5 years combined with developments of the last 10 years or so in office technology raise one of the most puzzling questions about future employment: Will this trend continue? Those who are convinced that this trend cannot continue and may reverse itself base their predictions primarily on the introduc- tion to the office of microprocessor-based technologies. The incred- ible reductions in the cost of computing power, combined with the reductions in bulk made possible by microprocessor technology, may possibly constitute a revolutionary technical development. And there has been an apparent reduction in the rate of increase in the proportion of clerical workers. As Figure 1 indicates, while the clerical proportion rose almost linearly from 1940 to 1970, a slight reduction in the rate of increase occurred between 1970 and 1980. Is this the beginning of the end of clerical employment growth? If so, what will be the impact on women workers?

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H. ALLAN HUNT AND TIMOTHYL. HUNT 225 Clerical jobs are also female jobs. Is it a coincidence that the expansion of clerical employment occurred simultaneously with the expansion of female labor force participation rates? To what extent have female job opportunities been linked to the expansion of the clerical work force? The overwhelming majority of clerical workers are in fact female, and this is even more true today than it was 30 years ago: from just over 60 percent female in 1950, the proportion grew to nearly 80 percent by 1980. Indeed, not only are clerical workers increasingly women but women are increasingly clerical workers. Between 1950 and 1980, the proportion of women workers who worked in clerical jobs grew from about 27 percent to over 35 percent. Thus, the sex segregation of clerical occupations appears to have been increasing, although there was very little increase in the proportion of females employed as clerical workers between 1970 and 1980.i The participation rate for men in clerical work was only 7.6 percent in 1980. Clearly, females are much more likely than males to work as clerical workers and clerical work has increased in importance as a source of employment for women. This paper reviews trends in clerical employment over the last 30 years and seeks evidence of the impact of changes in pro- cess technology on those trends. It also assesses prospects for the future of clerical employment. The next section reviews clerical employment trends from 1950 to 1980 by decade, as well as annual employment changes.2 Because this period encompasses the first computer revolution, the introduction of mainframe computers to the office, and the beginnings of the microcomputer age, the review can be interpreted as a search for the employment effects of tech- nological change. If changing office technologies displaced large numbers of clerical workers during the first computer revolution, the evidence should be in the employment record of the 1960s and 1970s. Similarly, if the current office technologies threaten clerical jobs, some evidence of this should be found in the employment figures of the early 1980s. The following section of the paper discusses the determinants of clerical employment in the broadest sense. The influence of industry occupational structure and industry employment trends ~ See Reskin and Hartmann (1985) for a discussion of sex segregation on the job. 2 A much more thorough review of existing data is provided by Hunt and Hunt (1986:Ch. 2 and 3~.

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226 RECENT TRENDS IN CLERICAL EMPLOYMENT on clerical employment totals are examined. The aggregate change in clerical employment from 1972 to 1982 is decomposed into portions attributable to general economic growth, changes in the sectoral composition of the economy, and changes in occupational staking patterns. Evidence of the direct impact of technological change on office employment levels is sought for the finance and insurance industry, reputedly the most advanced user of office automation systems. This paper does not try to assess the influence of other impor- tant factors that will determine future labor market outcomes for clerical workers. In particular, there is no consideration of future supply issues. If female labor force participation rates continue to rise as they have in the past, the issue of job creation for women will be of even greater significance. On the other hand, if women increase their penetration of nontraditional female occupations, the number of females seeking clerical positions in the future may decline. Whether men are more likely to begin to look to cler- ical positions for career opportunities in the future presumably depends on labor market developments for clericals, as well as the job outlook in more traditional male occupations.3 Clearly these considerations are crucial to understanding whether the supply and demand of clerical workers will be in approximate balance in the labor market of the future, but these questions are beyond the scope of the present effort. We seek only to illuminate past trends in clerical employment and investigate the causes behind those trends. Throughout the analysis we strive to develop an under- standing of the employment implications of technological change for clerical workers. In a concluding section, we draw on these find- ings and on a review of existing forecasts of clerical employment to narrow the range of uncertainty about the probable future impact of technological change on the demand for clerical employment. A CLOSER LOOK AT CLERICAL EMPLOYMENT TRENDS EMPLOYMENT FROM 19 5 0 TO 1 9 8 0 DECENNIAL CENSUS DATA Table 1 reports the best derivable estimates of detailed cler- ical employment on a consistent basis across the 1950 to 1980 3 Many of these issues are addressed by Hartmann, Kraut, and Tilly (1986).

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H. ALLAN HUNT AND TIMOTHYL. HUNT 227 time span. These figures are based on data from the decennial censuses, and although they are far from perfect, everything that can be done has been done to maximize the consistency of the estimates and minimize the distortions introduced by the mea- surement system and changes in it.4 Table 1 shows that there were just over 19 million clerical workers employed in 1980 in 42 separate clerical occupations ranging from secretary, the largest, to tabulating machine operator, the smallest. There were more than 4 million secretaries employed in 1980; they represented just over 4 Because these data have been adjusted rather extensively for consis- tency, the figures reported here do not correspond exactly with census figures from other sources. Comparisons of occupational data among decen- nial censuses are complicated, first, because the data came from a sample of all census respondents (though the numbers are very large by normal sampling standards), and second, because the measuring rod, the occupa- tional classification system, changes between censuses. In 1950, occupational employment was tabulated in 12 major groups and 469 detailed occupa- tional categories. In 1960, the same 12 major groups contained 494 detailed occupations; in 1970 there were only 417 detailed occupations but still ac- cumulated into 12 major occupational groups. The overall changes in the classification system can be regarded as relatively minor over this period, although with regard to individual occupations, major distortions can occur when an occupational category is added or deleted. In 1980, however, the magnitude of the differences in the occupational coding system are enor- mous: 503 detailed occupations, which have been reshuffled into 13 new major groups. For example, cashiers, who have previously been classified as clerical workers, are reclassified as sales workers; 1.65 million workers are thereby moved from one major occupational group to another. For the first time, there is a fundamental lack of consistency at the major occu- pational group level between adjacent census observations. To convert all occupational employment numbers to a consistent basis, the classification system of 1970 was chosen as the standard upon the advice of the Bureau of the Census. The comparison between 1960 and 1970 employment in terms of the 1970 classification was readily available from the Bureau (Bureau of the Census, 1972:Table 221, and Priebe et al., 1972~. The 1950 census employment could not be converted directly into 1970 categories, and were first reclassified into 1960 terms, using '' technical Paper No. 18; then those numbers were converted to the 1970' basis using Priebe et al. (1972~. The 1980 data were converted to the 1970 basis- using preliminary unpublished results from the Census Bureau. It requires a painstaking effort to bridge from one decennial census to the next in this manner, and the accuracy of the results is uncertain. All of the reclassification work is done on the- basis of sample results. The reclassified employment figures are thus subject both to the original sampling error in estimating occupational employment and the secondary sampling error involved ' in the reclassification study. These issues are discussed more fully in Hunt and Hunt (1986:Ch. 2~.

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230 RECENT TRENDS IN CLERICAL EMPLO YMENT 4 percent of total employment and 21 percent of clerical employ- ment in that year. The second largest category was bookkeepers, with about 1.8 million employed, followed by cashiers, with 1.7 million. The only other clerical occupation that has approached 1 million employees is typists. Together, these "big four" clerical occupations accounted for 8.5 million jobs, or about 45 percent of all clerical employment in 1980. These same four occupations accounted for only 27 percent of clerical employment in 1950; all four of these occupations have grown substantially in employment during the last 30 years. On the other end of the scale in terms of size, there were only about 3,300 tabulating machine operators and about 7,600 telegraph op- erators employed in 1980. These occupations have been declining for some years, as have the next two smallest occupations, dupli- cating machine operators and calculating machine operators. Each of these occupations has been adversely impacted hv ~.h~.n~.c: in technology. ~ ~ ~ ~) ~^ ~~A b= 111 When these same data for the various occupations are ex- ~ Omened In terms of their annual compound rates of change in employment between 1950 and 1980, computer and peripheral equipment operators far exceeded all other clerical occupations in their rate of increase. This occupation has grown from an employ- ment level of 868 persons in 1950 at the dawn of the computer age to nearly 400,000 persons in 1980, an annual rate of growth of over 22 percent. This is the labor market expression of the computer revolution, which began to substantially affect employment levels in computer-related occupations in the 1960s. It is interesting to note that the second fastest growing clerical occupation over the 1950 to 1980 period was teachers' aides: from high tech to high touch in one easy step! The number of teachers' aides increased from 6,000 to over 200,000 in this 30-year period, or about 12 percent per year. The third fastest growing clerical occupation was typists, even though there was actually a 23 percent decline in employment from 1970 to 1980. The phenomenal growth of typists in the 1950s and 1960s was sufficient to offset the recent decline, for an average annual rate of growth of 9 percent when the entire 30-year period is considered. Following in order of rate of growth are library attendants, clerical supervisors, bank tellers, receptionists, and cashiers. Clearly, there is not a high-tech oc- cupation among them, although they have all been impacted in

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H. ALLAN HUNT AND TIMOTHY L. HUNT 231 one way or another by technological change as well as many other influences. There were also a few clerical occupations that showed abso- lute declines during this Midyear period. The most rapid declines were among stenographers and telegraph operators, declining in employment by about 5 percent annually. Both occupations have been impacted by technology, but not in an obvious way. The telegraph has been all but replaced by superior communications devices, and this has nearly eliminated the jobs of telegraph oper- ators. Improvements in dictation equipment and changing habits of users have spurred the decline in the stenographer occupation. In 1950, there were 2.3 secretaries per stenographer while by 1980 the ratio had risen to 44 to 1. Fairly rapid declines were also shown by tabulating machine operators and weighers. Actually, the tabulating machine opera- tors would have been the most rapidly retreating if 1960 had been taken as the base year. This occupation provides an excellent ex- ample of a technology-specific occupation that experiences rapid growth and then declines. Tabulating machines were very popu- lar in the 1950s for analyzing data on punched paper cards. The number of tabulating machine operators nearly tripled between 1950 and 1960. But data-processing technology moved rapidly beyond the capabilities of tabulating machines, and the number of employees in this occupation has fallen by nearly 90 percent since 1960. Rounding out the declining occupations are messengers and office helpers, calculating machine operators, and telephone op- erators. All appear to be office-technology-related declines, since the communications and computing capabilities of modern offices have rendered these jobs less essential than in the past. With the spectacular exception of the computer operator cat- egory, the rapid-growth jobs do not show any particular high- technology bent. On the other hand, the declining occupations do seem to offer a technological interpretation, at least in part. Whether this represents a general principle is not clear at this time. What is clear is that the bulk of clerical employment occurs in a few very large, very diffuse occupational titles, such as secre- tary and bookkeeper. This was more true in 1980 than in 1950. It is possible that one impact of office technology over the last 30 years has been to foster more generality in job title and perhaps in duties, but that cannot be conclusively demonstrated with the data that are currently available.

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232 RECENT TRENDS IN CLERICAL EMPLOYMENT ANNUAL EMPLOYMENT CHANGES, CURRENT POPULATION SURVEY DATA The long-term decennial census data do not seem to demon- strate a widespread impact of technology on clerical occupations, but annual data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) may be more revealing. Figure 2 shows aggregate clerical employment as a proportion of total employment on an annual basis from 1958 to 1984. It clearly shows that the rate of increase of clerical work- ers relative to all employment was much slower in the 1970s than it was in the 1960s.5 Even more apparent is the stagnation in the proportion of clerical workers since 1980. Clerical workers did not fare as well in the last recessionary period as they did earlier. It is less certain what the downturn in the clerical proportion in 1984 means. Such a decline has been typical of recovery periods in the past (as in 1976-1977), when the number of production workers rises rapidly to restore the prerecession balance between produc- tion and nonproduction workers, including ciericals. Whether the trend of the early l980s is something different is not yet clear. The magnitude of the drop is unprecedented, but that does not prove that the cause is fundamentally different. A look at recent annual CPS data for detailed occupations may be instructive. Unfortunately, the only time period for which this can be done is the decade from 1972 to 1982. If the mi- croprocessor revolution is going to have catastrophic impacts on clerical employment, it should have become apparent by 1982 when the microcomputer population reached the 1 million unit level (Computer and Business Equipment Manufacturers Associ- ation, 1985:87~. While this period would seem to be adequate for analysm, it is complicated by the fact that the recession of 1981-1982 occurs right at the end of the period.6 In addition, because of the smaller sample used by the CPS, some reservation must be expressed about any particular annual observation. More 5 The ~r~n~r~nt: Harry ;- 1071 ~ ..1~ :~ ~ ~ n . .. ~.~ r I ,-~^ .~vu~~ Lo; 1~,llor1:u as lb resects one conversion to new census codes rather than any actual change in clerical employment levels. 6 It is frustrating to stop the analysis in 1982; however, the massive reorganization of the occupational classification system introduced to the CPS in 1983 (corresponding to the 1980 decennial census reclassification) prevents the development of consistent data for all occupations after 1982.

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H. ALLAN HUNT AND TIMOTHYL. BUNT 0.19 0.18 o - CC O 0.17 o Or: CL 6 0.16 UJ J Cat 0.15 0.14 1960 1 964 YEAR 233 ,~ 1968 1972 1 976 1 980 1 984 FIGURE 2 Annual changes in clerical employment as a proportion of total employment, 1958-1984. Source: Hunt and Hunt (1986~; based on 1958-1984 CPS data. confidence can be put in trends that emerge over a period of 3 or 4 years. Table 2 shows the CPS clerical occupations sorted by the an- nual rate of change over the 1972-1982 decade. As in the decennial data for 1950 to 1980, computer and peripheral equipment oper- ators experienced the most rapid rate of increase of any clerical occupation, although it^was only about half the average annual rate shown for the 1950-1980 period. Bank tellers and insur- ance adjusters, examiners and investigators both edged ahead of teachers' aides in growth rates during the more recent decade. This reflects the falloff in the rate of growth in teachers' aides as employment growth in education as a whole faltered because of funding difficulties and a reduction in the student population. Other clerical occupations showing relatively rapid growth during the 1972 to 1982']ecade include cashiers, estimators and investigators, and receptionists. All three of these occupations involve direct customer contact and probably would fall into the "hard to automate" category. Messengers and office helpers emerge as a relatively rapidly growing clerical occupation in the

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H. ALLAN HUNT AND TIMOTHY L. HUNT 257 has slowed significantly. Clerical workers have had a favorable in- dustry mix in their employment pattern, benefiting from the shift toward finance and other service-related industries because those industries employ much higher proportions of clerical workers. Furthermore, the relative importance of clerical jobs has tended -to rise within industries. Thus, in the past all the factors have tended to be positive and the result has been spectacular growth in clerical employment. Given the rapid growth in clerical jobs over the last 30 years or so, it appears reasonable to conclude that many goods and services have been becoming more and more in- formation intensive per unit of output over time. This has tended to boost clerical employment. However, it is clear that the rate of growth of clerical jobs slowed during the last decade. Clericals did not benefit from the last recession as they have in earlier recessions, nor are some of the sectors that are important employers of clericals growing as fast as they once were. Finally, although office automation may not be producing a revolution, it should at least contribute to the slowing of employment growth in these occupations in the future. Changing staffing ratios, probably the most visible manifesta- tion of the specific effects of technological change on occupational employment, had a moderately positive effect on the employment growth of clerical workers from 1972 to 1982, creating about 450,000 new clerical jobs (compared to about 3 million created by aggregate economic growth and 600,000 by the concentration of clerical workers in rapidly growing industries). Although the net effect of changing staffing ratios on clerical employment was modestly positive across all industries, there were a few sectors, notably finance, where the effect was negative. This is taken as evidence of the adverse impact of technological change on cleri- cal employment. Investment in this sector has been dramatically higher than the historical average for that sector for the last 15 years, but measured industry-wide productivity gains in finance and insurance do not support the thesis that office automation is having a significant impact. This lack of measured productivity results remains a puzzle. Nevertheless, future employment may well be impacted by the capital buildup in this and other sectors that have traditionally been large employers of clerical workers.

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258 RECENT TRENDSINCLERICALEMPLOYMENT A LOOK TOWARD THE FUTURE It is, of course, risky to attempt to predict what might happen to clerical employment in the future, but the changes that lie behind the trends noted above provide some clues, as do recent forecasts made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BES) and other researchers. These will not be fully reviewed here, but their major conclusions are summarized as part of our assessment of the likely future for clerical employment. (For a more complete discussion see Hunt and Hunt, 1986.) The BES occupational projections represent the most impor- tant effort of the federal government to anticipate future needs for specific occupations. The BES methodology is based on a mod- eling framework that accounts for many economic variables. The resulting occupational projections are not necessarily superior to others, but they do have the advantage of being produced in a comprehensive and reasonably consistent manner. Other forecasts of clerical employment growth are not nearly as comprehensive as that of the BES. For example, Leontief and Duchin (1986) of New York University analyze the impacts of computer automation on employment from 1963 to 2000. Their research is limited to cer- tain specified computer technologies and does not consider other productivity-enhancing technologies or any other source of produc- tivity growth. Roessner et al. (1985) of the Georgia Institute of Technology, examines clerical jobs in two industries, banking and insurance. Finally, Drennan (1983) of Columbia University looks at clerical employment in six industries. His projection methodol- ogy utilizes extrapolation of historical trends after accounting for the effects of the 1980-1982 recession. The BES anticipates near average growth for clerical jobs. Between 1982 and 1995, BES anticipates an average growth in employment of 28.1 percent. Growth in employment of clerical occupations is anticipated to be 26.5 percent. The effect of differ- ential rates of industry growth is expected to be slightly positive at 1.6 percent (smaller than their contribution between 1972 and 1982~. The effect of changing staffing ratios is expected to be negative at minus 3.1 percent. In fact, all the existing forecasts of employment in clerical occupations are unanimous in predicting that staffing ratios for clerical jobs will decline in the years ahead, presumably because of office automation. The fall in staffing ratios anticipated by BI`S is modest compared with other predictions.

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H. ALLAN HUNT AND TIMOTHYL. HUNT 259 Still, it is significant that the only turnaround from historical trends anticipated by BES at the major occupational group level due to changing staffing ratios is that for clerical workers. At least through 1982, the decomposition analysis discussed earlier showed that the staffing ratios for clerical jobs were rising, whereas the BES forecast (base year 1982) and other forecasts expect that this trend wiB be reversed in the years ahead. Growth rates forecast by BES for 95 specific clerical occu- pations range from a positive 76.1 percent to rn~nus 20 percent. The range in the portion due to clerical staffing ratio changes is from plus 38.4 percent to minus 55.6 percent. Clearly, though the effect of BES's staffing ratio for clerical workers is negative overall, BES expects many positive staffing effects for clerical workers as well. The fastest-growing clerical jobs are expecter] to be com- puter operators, claims adjusters, insurance checkers, peripheral EDP equipment operators, telephone ad takers, claims clerks, and credit authorizers. All are expected to have staffing ratio im- pacts equivalent to increases in employment levels of 20 percent or more. Besides the obvious technological impacts of comput- ers on this list, it may be important to note that many of these occupations require the worker to interact in some way with the customer who is being served. That may provide a clue as to why BES thinks secretaries will not decline in importance, or perhaps why cashiers are the 10th fastest-growing occupation, with a 48.2 percent growth rate. Again a world of both high tech and high touch is anticipated. Roessner et al., Drennan, and Leontief and Duchin all con- clude that office automation will have a much greater negative im- pact on clerical jobs than the BES predicts, with Leontief-Duchin and Roessner et al. predicting absolute declines in clerical em- ployment within the next decade. Roessner et al. is particularly pointed about his concerns regarding the BES methodology and forecasts, while Drennan's projections appear to be nearer the BES position. We find the studies of Leontief and Duchin and Roessner et al. to be seriously flawed for serving policy needs; we think that LeontieDuchin and Roessner et al. are unduly pessimistic about the outlook for clerical jobs. There are a variety of reasons that support our contention. First, although Leontief-Duchin use the BES forecast for demand for goods and services, they predict revolutionary change in the

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260 RECENT TRENDS IN CLERICAL EMPLOYMENT process technology by which those goods and services will be pro- duced. The revolution in office automation is assumed to leave the demand side of the marketplace unchanged. But that is not the way a complex, dynamic market economy operates. If office automation were adopted rapidly, it would change the relative costs of production for those goods and services that are inten- sive users of office automation. Those lower production costs will generate lower prices. Since office work is concentrated in the ser- vice sector, where demand growth has been above average, there is every reason to think that both the lower prices and income growth over time will generate additional demand. This scenario is even more plausible when one realizes that the product markets themselves are not static. So the new electronic office technolo- gies may provide the impetus for the development of entirely new goods and services. Industry interrelationships may change or scale economies may be so significant that they fuel the devel- opment of a mass market that heretofore was undreamed of. In our opinion it is inappropriate to fix demand or the growth of demand and then assume a revolutionary change on the supply side of the market. Obviously, such a partial analysis can create false impressions about the true impacts of office automation. Second, it appears that none of these other studies account for the tendency of output to become more information intensive over time. Yet this is a process that has been occurring for some time. The production recipes for many different goods and services today require more information processing than yesterday. This is not simply a function of the changing composition of demand but relates to the ingredients for a standard unit of output. To the extent that this trend continues in the future, it implies that office automation may have less impact on clerical employment levels than anticipated by some researchers. Third, it should be mentioned that office automation is likely to lower the marginal cost of some new types of work so much that the required labor needed to produce that work rises by more than the labor-saving impact of the new techniques themselves. The common example is redrafts of documents with word processing. The probability that this will occur may be enhanced by our inability to measure output from offices in the first place. This type of new work or rework is explicitly rejected by I`eontief- Duchin, and perhaps implicitly by Roessner et al.

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H. ALLAN HUNT AND TIMOTHYL. HUNT 261 Fourth, these studies do not account for the fact that the new technologies must be cost-effective and relatively reliable for widespread application. The technologies may appear to be cost- less, producing quantum leaps in productivity for the users. Yet there are purchase costs, installation costs, and ongoing costs that must be accounted for. The ongoing costs include system main- tenance, software development, and training, among others. The cost of unscheduled downtime may become increasingly significant with more integrated systems. Finally, LeontieDuchin and Roessner et al. appear to us to be truly overoptimistic technologically, both in terms of what office automation equipment can do and in the speed of diffusion of that equipment. Leontief-Duchin assume that word processors alone wit] produce productivity gains for typists and secretaries of 500 percent. Yet this assumption is based upon a short, anonymous trade journal article that is five times more optimistic than the other articles which Leontief-Duchin reference. Roessner et al., on the other hand, emphasizes the potential for two breakthrough technologies, voice input and artificial intelligence. He assumes that innovations will occur in these technologies in the next few years, that they will be successfully marketed, and that they will dramatically reduce clerical employment in banking and insurance during the 1990s. Our major complaint with the technological assumptions of both LeontieDuchin and Roessner et al. is not that they may be technically wrong, although there is ample reason to question them, but that the level of uncertainty about the technical fore- casts is so great that no one should seriously want to base policy decisions on them. Artificial intelligence, for example, is a technol- ogy that has been touted since the 1950s as a major breakthrough. Perhaps we will always be overoptimistic about new technologies; it stems to be part of the human condition. But that is no justi- fication to shape public policy based on our dreams of the future. Suffice it to say that we are unconvinced that technology will evolve as far or as fast as Leontief-Duchin and Roessner et al. predict. This is the kind of analysis that leads to the fear that we will experience massive technological unemployment at some point in the future. Various analysts have been predicting such an event at least since the dawn of the industrial age. Somehow the employment apocalypse is always just ahead, yet fortunately we never quite reach it.

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262 RECENT TRENDS IN CLERICAL EMPLOYMENT Because of the uncertainties about future demand and the capabilities of future technologies, we would encourage a focus on shorter-range occupational forecasting, exactly the opposite approach being suggested by Leontief-Duchin and Roessner et al. Roessner et al. argues that public policy makers need a longer time period for planning. But, if technological change is occurring faster today, then it is becoming even more impossible to develop long-run employment forecasts. Surely it is folly to think that we can peer 15 to 20 years into the future and see the detailed occupational and industrial structure of this nation. In fact, we think that the current :BES efforts, which produce about a Midyear planning horizon, tax existing forecasting abilities to the limit.iS What has this review shown for the future of clerical jobs? First, we think the pessimists who claim that these jobs will either stop growing absolutely or actually decline are wrong. The forces of economic growth, the shift toward services, and the current limitations of office automation technologies all argue strongly against this scenario. However, it is clear that the historical rate of growth of clerical jobs has slowed. Clericals did not benefit from the last recession as they have in earlier recessions, nor are some of the sectors that are important employers of clericals growing as fast as they once were. Finally, office automation is likely to at least contribute to the slowing of employment growth in these occupations in the future. We think that the overall growth of clerical jobs in the future will be average to slightly below average. There is broad agreement among forecasts that clerical jobs will not continue their rapid growth of the past few decades. The recent slowdown in the growth of clerical jobs is very likely permanent. We find no persuasive evidence, however, that there will be a significant decline in the absolute number of clerical jobs. The forecasts of declining clerical employment are based on overopti- mistic expectations of technological improvements or exaggerated productivity claims on behalf of existing technology. In our opin- ion, current office technology offers significant improvements in product quality and modest improvements in productivity. There 15 We also think BLS should be more open about their handling of technological change in their forecasts. Like the other forecasters discussed here, BLS should reveal the basis for its judgments concerning technological change.

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H. ALLAN BUNT AND TIMO THY L. HUNT 263 is as yet no empirical evidence of an office productivity revolu- tion that will displace significant numbers of clerical workers. The growth of computer-related clerical positions will continue to be strong. Office automation is not sufficiently advanced at this point to slow the growth of these jobs. Many factors will contribute to the continued, if slower, job growth of clericals in the future. Chief among these is the simple fact that clericals are so diffused in the national economy. More- over, to the extent that clerical jobs are concentrated in particular industries, it has been in industries growing faster than average. Even if the growth rate of some of these slows, as it has in some financial industries for example, others, such as services, are likely to continue to grow at above average rates. Therefore, even al- lowing for negative employment impacts from office automation, the growth of this large, diverse, and diffused major occupational group should not be much below the average growth for all occu- pations for the next decade. Many commentators believe that back-office clerical jobs will disapppear. We do not think this is likely. An analogy to man- ufacturing may be useful. Automation has not caused the total elimination of production workers in manufacturing, but these jobs have not been increasing in absolute terms for 40 years either. IJike most of the forecasts discussed, we think the back-office jobs are more threatened by automation than other positions. They share with production workers a routinization of tasks, which tends to support automation. This will not necessarily lead to their demise but their growth will be well below average. A good example of the limits of technological change is pro- vided by bank tellers. The growth of this occupation has slowed in recent years. The future growth prospects for bank tellers appear to be directly tied to the public's acceptance of automatic teller machines. But these machines today are used mostly for with- drawals and cannot handle nonroutine transactions. They cannot be thought of as a substitute for a fully staffed bank. Furthermore, it is difficult to know if and when the public will be willing to break the human link in making banking transactions. Secretaries fall somewhere between the back-office jobs and those positions that involve considerable customer interface. Therefore, secretarial employment growth may slow but will not stop. We think that the growth of secretaries will be average to below average, but the absolute number of these jobs will definitely

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264 RECENT TRENDS IN CLERICAL EMPLOYMENT increase. Secretarial positions require a variety of skills and many are generalist in nature; they are more difficult to eliminate with automation. A variety of skills helps to ensure that the automa- tion of any one of these skills leaves the job intact. It seems clear that secretaries of the future will require an even greater variety of skills and will utilize much more capital equipment. Computer technology is still not ready to tackle the unstruc- tured situations where humans excel. Clerical positions that in- volve direct interface with customers or co-workers are likely to experience at least average growth. The office of the future will require both "high tech" and "high touch" occupations. REFERENCES Attewell, Paul, and James Rule 1984 Computing and organizations: what we know and what we don't know. Communicahon~ of the A CM (December) : 1184-1192. Bailey, Andrew D., James H. Gerlach, and Andrew B. Winston 1985 Office Systems, Technology and Organizations. Reston, Va.: Reston Publishing Company. Brand, Horst, and John Duke 1982 Productivity in banking: computers spur the advance. Monthly Labor Review (December) :19-27. Bureau of the Census 1972 1970 Census of Populah on, Detailed Characteristics, United Stated Sum' mark. PC(1~-D(1~. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Com- merce. Bureau of Labor Statistics 1981 The National Indwtry-Occupahon Matriz, 1970, 1978, and Projected 1990. Bulletin 2~)86. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor. 1979 Time Series Data for Input-Output Industries: Output;, Price, and Em- ployment. Bulletin 2018. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor. March. Computer and Business Equipment Manufacturers Association 1985 The Computer and Brained Equipment Industry Marketing Data Book. Washington, D.C.: Computer and Business Equipment Manufac- turers Association. Diebold, John 1985 Managing Information: The Challenge and the Opportunity. New York: AMACOM. Drenn an, Matthew P. 1983 Implications of Computer and Communications Technology for Less Skilled Service Employment Opportunities. Final report pre- pared for the Employment and Training Administration. Wash- ington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor. Hartmann, Heidi I., Robert E. Kraut, and Louise A. Tilly, eds. 1986 Computer Chips and Paper Clips: Tecknolo~y and Women's Employment. Vol. I. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

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H. ALLAN HUNT AND TIMOTHYL. HUNT 265 Honeywell Inc. 1983 Office Automation and the Workplace: A National Survey. Minneapolis, Minn.: Honeywell Inc. Hunt, H. Allan, and Timothy L. Hunt 1986 Clerical Employment and Technological Change. Kalamazoo, Mich.: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. Hunt, Timothy L., and H. Allan Hunt 1985 An Assessment of Data Sources to Study the Employment Effects of Technological Change. Pp. 1-116 in Technological Employment Effcet`: Into rim Report. Panel on Technology and Women's Employ- ment, Committee on Women's Employment and Related Social Issues. National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. International Data Corporation 1982 Information systems for tomorrow's office. Fortune (October 18~: 17-81. 1983 Office systems for the eighties: automation and the bottom line. Fortune (October 3~:89-162. 1984 Information systems for tomorrow's office. Fortune (October 15~: 99-138. Katsan, Harry, Jr. 1982 O.~cc Automations A Mar~ager's Guide. New York: American Man- agement Associations. King, John L., and Kenneth L. Kraemer 1981 Cost as a social impact of information technology. Pp. 93-129 in Mitchell L. Moss, ea., Telecommunications and Productivity. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley. Leontief, Wassily, and Faye Duchin 1986 The E`uture Impact of Automation on Workers. New York: Oxford University Press. Priebe, John A., Joan Heinkel, and Stanley Greene 1972 1970 Occupation and Industry Classification Systems in Terms of their 1960 Occupation and Industry Elements. Technical Paper No. 26. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce. July. Reskin, Barbara F., and Heidi I. Hartmann, eds. 1985 Womcn!s Work, Millie Work. Scz Segregation on the Job. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Roessner, J. David, Robert M. Mason, Alan L. Porter, Frederick A. Rossini, A. Perry Schwartz, and Keith R. Nelms 1985 The Impact of Office Automation on Clerical Employment, 1985- 2000: Forecasting Techniques and Plausible Futures in Banking and Insurance. Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books. Salerno, Lynn M. 1985 What happened to the computer revolution? Harvard Business Review (Novembe - December):129-138. Se~kin, Eugene P., and David P. Sullivan 1985 Revised estimates of new plant and equipment expenditures in the United States, 1947-1983. Survey of Current Bueinc~` (February): 16 - 27.

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266 RECENT TRENDS IN CLERICAl EMPLOYMENT Strassman, Paul A. 1985 Ir~formation Payoff: The lEan~forma:tion of Work in the Electronic Age. New York: Free Press. Wang Laboratories, Inc. 1985 Issues in Information Processing: Cost Justification Lowell, Mass.: Wang Laboratories, Inc. BIBLIOGRAPHY Administrative Management 1978 The many cases for WP. Adnuni~trative Management (April):70-71. Bureau of the Census 1982 1980 Census of Population" Classic ed Index of Indu~!nes and Occupations. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. Business Week 1985 The computer slump. Burners Week (June 24~:74-81. Downing, Hazel 1980 Word Processors and the Oppression of Women. Pp. 275-288 in Tom Forester, ea., The Microelectronics Revolution. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT' Press. Employment and Training Administration 1977 Dictionary of Occupational Titles. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor. Gold, Bela 1981 Robotics, programmable automation and increasing competitive- ness. Pp. 91-117 in Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics: Summary and Issues. Office of Technology Assessment, Congress of the United States. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govern- ment Printing Office. Karan, Mary A. 1982 Word processing: when it doesn't work. Computer World (March): 16. Klein, Deborah P. 1984 Occupational employment statistics for 1972-82. Employment and Earnings (January):13. Kutscher, Ronald E. 1982 New economic projections through 1990 an overview. Pp. 1-9 in Econorn~c Projections to t990. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor. Miller, Ann, Donald J. Treiman, Pamela S. Cain, and Patricia A. Roos, eds. 1980 Work, Jobs, and Occupations: A Critical Remew of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles." Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Murphree, Mary 1981 Rationalization and Satisfaction in Clerical Work: A Case Study of Wall Street Legal Secretaries. Ph.D. dissertation. Columbia University, New York. Office of Economic Growth and Employment Projections 1981 Projected Occupational Staffing Patterns of Industries. OES Tech- nical Paper Number 2. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor.

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H. ALLAN HUNT AND TIMOTHY L. HUNT 267 Office of Technology Assessment 1984 Effects of Ir~formation Technology on Financial Services Sy~ter~w. Wash- ington, D.C.: Congress of the United States. Silvestri, George T., John M. Lukasiewicz, and Marcus E. Einstein 1983 Occupational employment projections through 1995. Monthly Labor Review (November):37-49. Stanford Research Institute 1984 Drop in business demand for personal computers. The SRI Journal (May):4-5. Winston, Patrick H. 1985 The AI business: a perspective. Manufacturing Engineering (March).