Recent telecommunications advances, especially the Internet, could theoretically put more than 30 million U.S. jobs at risk of being exported overseas. Services previously needed to be performed domestically theoretically can be done anywhere in the world through the Internet, four U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analysts say in an article appearing in the agency’s Monthly Labor Review (subscription required).
The 160 occupations considered capable of being performed in other countries account for some 30.3 million workers, one-fifth of total U.S. employment and cover a wide array of job functions, pay rates and educational levels.
More than half of the vulnerable jobs in the BLS study are professional and related occupations, including computer and mathematical science occupations and architecture and engineering jobs, and many office and administrative support occupations also are considered susceptible.
Since 2000, corporations have shipped more than 525,000 white-collar overseas, according to the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees (DPE). Some estimates say up to 14 million middle-class jobs could be exported out of our nation in the next 10 years. Accountants, software engineers, X-ray technicians, all are losing their jobs as corporations look for low-wage workers in countries such as India and China.
Meanwhile, the jobs being created in the United States often are low-wage jobs that don’t offer health coverage or ensure retirement security. Nearly one-quarter of the nation’s workers labor in jobs that generally pay less than the $8.85 hourly wage the U.S. government says it takes to keep a family of four out of poverty. Sixty percent of such workers are women, and many are people of color.
Among the occupations most susceptible to being sent overseas, the BLS analysts say, are those that produce information and do not require “face-to-face” contact. Among the most vulnerable are office and administrative support jobs, with relatively low education or training requirements, including telephone operators, payroll and timekeeping clerks, and word processors and typists.
Another 11 of the highest ranked jobs are professional and related occupations, which generally possess higher educational requirements. They include pharmacists, computer programmers, biochemists and biophysicists, architectural and civil drafters, financial analysts, paralegals and legal assistants.
Among the occupations least likely to be shipped overseas are financial managers, food scientists and technologists, front-line retail sales managers, and training and development specialists.
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