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August 23, 2007

Will good paying jobs leave, too?

The United States continues to lose many manufacturing jobs to foreign countries, where the labor costs are much lower. And now we are beginning to see the same thing happen with some well-paying professional and technical jobs. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden considers whether these jobs eventually be leaving the country in droves, too.

"Quite frankly, some will," says Dr. Walden, a professor of agricultural and resource economics. "These are mainly going to be jobs that are perhaps professional jobs, but where personal contact isn't important and where the tasks are not that complicated to where they can't be done in one country and essentially shipped electronically to the home country.

"So we are talking about perhaps some basic jobs in computer programming, straightforward accounting, maybe even some mundane tax work," he adds. "But we shouldn't really I think extrapolate from that and say that, 'well we are eventually going to lose all of high paying jobs,' because a lot of the high-paying jobs -- many, perhaps the majority -- require personal contact.

"What I do ... teaching. Obviously doctors, you need interaction with patients. Even jobs like architectural jobs and engineers -- yes, they will do the plans, but then they perhaps need to go and supervise the construction," he explains. "Also I think you have to keep in mind as those foreign countries that are perhaps attracting some of those higher-paying jobs, as they develop they are going to have a greater internal demand for those occupations at home. And that will lessen their desire perhaps to attract those jobs from other areas.

"And then one final thing on this," he concludes, "It's interesting to note that when we look at the import-export numbers, ... I think most people know that the U.S. has been running a big trade deficit (that is, importing more than we are exporting). [But] we actually run a trade surplus in private professional services."

Posted by deeshore at August 23, 2007 08:00 AM