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Report – Digitalization and the American workforce

New analysis by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program of more than 500 occupations reveals the rapid pace of their “digitalization” since 2001, suggesting the acquisition of digital skills is now a prerequisite for economic success for American workers, industries, and metropolitan areas.The report, “Digitalization and the American workforce,” provides a detailed analysis of changes in the digital content of 545 occupations representing 90 percent of the workforce in all industries since 2001, rating each occupation on a digital content scale of 0-100. While the digital content of virtually all jobs has been increasing (the average digital score across all occupations rose 57 percent from 2002 to 2016) occupations in the middle and lower end of the digital skill spectrum have increased digital scores most dramatically. Workers, industries,and metropolitan areas benefit from increased digital skills via enhanced wage growth, higher productivity and pay, and a reduced risk of automation, but adaptive policies are still needed.The report offers recommendations for improving digital education and training while mitigating its potentially harmful effects, such as worker pay disparities and the divergence of metropolitan area economic outcomes. Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings and the report’s author, said, “We definitely need more coders and high-end IT professionals, but it’s just as important that many more people learn the basic tech skills that are needed in virtually every job.That’s the kind of digital inclusion we need. In that respect, not everybody needs to go to a coding bootcamp but they probably do need to know Excel and basic office productivity software and enterprise platforms.”

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