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The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market Hardcover – May 2, 2004

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As computers make inroads on every aspect of business, will people cease to matter? That’s the underlying question of this fascinating examination of the new labor market. In lucid prose, Levy and Murnane—economics professors at MIT and Harvard, respectively, and co-authors of the 1996 bestseller Teaching the New Basic Skills—present their answer, and their expectations regarding how computers will affect future wages and job distributions. They begin by debunking the common perception that computers eliminate jobs; the truth, they say, is that "computers are Janus-faced, helping to create jobs even as they destroy jobs." Supported by trend data—clearly laid out in charts, graphs and extensive footnotes—they argue that every technical advance since the introduction of computers to the workplace "shifts works away from routine tasks and towards tasks requiring expert thinking and complex communication." Levy and Murnane also assert that, while it is easy to point to all the new service economy jobs that involve standing behind fast-food counters, the majority of newly created jobs have put workers behind desks, in control of computers and in front of other humans where they are asked to use cognitive skills that outstrip any computer’s capability. But if the replacement of humans by computers isn’t a realistic crisis, the authors do point out another looming problem: a possible shortage in properly trained workers. Blue-collar and clerical workers displaced by computers already have a difficult time adjusting to the requirements of the new high-wage jobs, and, if educational curriculums aren’t changed to reflect the market’s demand for sophisticated thinking and communication, students may graduate without the skills they need either. Readers interested in labor and technology shouldn’t be put off by this book’s dull cover art. Its contents are anything but boring.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"This book, through a wealth of examples, gives the reader a concrete sense of how computers have changed the nature of the workplace."―John Bound, University of Michigan

"In their brilliant new book The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market, Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane write that the future belongs to people who excel at expert thinking (solving problems for which there are no rules-based solutions) and complex communication (interacting with people to acquire information, understand what that information means and persuade others of its implications for action).", ComputerWorld

"[A] fascinating book. Not since the mathematical economist Truman Bewley interviewed 300 business executives and labor leaders for Why Wages Don't Fall during a Recession have sophisticated economists waded so deeply into the real-world circumstances of the important problem they are seeking to understand."---David Warsh, economicprincipals.com

"Remember that barely one-third of New York City's eighth-graders can read and do basic math. Then, read this book."---Nicole Gelinas, New York Post

"Behind all the angst about computers and outsourcing destroying American livelihoods lies a story about economic change and its effect on workers. With welcome clarity, brevity, and insight, Levy and Murnane tell us how to make sense of the time in which we live."---David Wessel, "Capital" columnist, Wall Street Journal

"A fascinating, important book. Levy and Murnane tackle one of the most important questions in contemporary economics, how computers change the way work is organized and how labor markets reward skill. The answer they offer is simple and powerful."―James B. Rebitzer, Case Western Reserve University

"A timely contribution. The New Division of Labor adds an important level of understanding to the changes we are witnessing in our labor markets. There is a message regarding the skills that are required by our economy and implications for educational reform and a message as to the political tensions that accompany this transition. The phenomenon described is of global relevance."―-John Reed, Interim Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange

"A concise and easily accessible exploration of how the computer has shifted the demands for certain types of skills. Unlike the sky-is-falling commentators of the left and the technology-will-solve-all-problems cheerleaders of the right, Levy and Murnane use history, anecdotes and statistical analysis to delineate how technology will change the nature of work.", Washington Post

"Levy and Murnane go beyond conventional accounts of the effect of automation on the workforce to take a comprehensive and thoughtful look at how increased use of technology is affecting the occupational distribution in the U.S., and precisely what skills are likely to be valued in tomorrow's labor markets. This should be read by all who care about the future of work in America."―Lawrence H. Summers, President, Harvard University

"Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane have written a very readable introduction to some key issues facing US workers in an increasingly informational economy. . . . [R]eaders exploring these ideas for the first time will find this an engaging and provocative introduction to an important set of political-economic processes that continue to bring information technology and human labor together, for better or for worse."---Greg Downey, International Review of Social History

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1 pounds
  • Hardcover : 200 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0691119724
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0691119724
  • Dimensions : 6.5 x 0.75 x 9.5 inches
  • Publisher : Princeton University Press (May 2, 2004)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.6 out of 5 stars 14 ratings

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3.6 out of 5 stars
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Alfredo Pastor Bodmer
5.0 out of 5 stars The book begins by asking four key questions and goes ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 30, 2014
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