Polarization (economics)

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Economists refer to the polarization of the labor force when middle-class jobs—requiring a moderate level of skills, like autoworkers’ jobs—seem to disappear relative to those at the bottom, requiring few skills, and those at the top, requiring greater skill levels.[1] The structure of job opportunities in the United States has sharply polarized over the past two decades, with expanding job opportunities in both high-skill, high-wage occupations and low-skill, low wage occupations combined with contracting opportunities in middle-wage, middle-skill white-collar and blue-collar jobs.[2] Although this has contributed to the rise of income inequality in the U.S. it is a minor factor compared to the relatively rapid rise in income and wealth by the top 1%.[3] Employment and economic polarization is widespread across industrialized economies; it is not a uniquely American phenomenon. Over the past decades, wage gains were also polarized, with modest gains at the extremes and smaller gains in the middle.[4] A good description of polarization in Great Britain is one of the first uses of the term, economic polarization.[5][6]