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All posts by Stephen Rose

A Response to the Critics

I expected that there would be a lot of critical responses to my argument that Emmanuel Saez had “cooked the numbers,” in his study of income inequality,to show that virtually all of income growth during the “recovery” after the Great Recession went to the wealthiest 1 percent. I had a strong feeling that most people would miss my narrowly framed argument and think that I was belittling the negative effects of inequality on our population. Despite attempts to inoculate myself from this criticism by showing the relatively low share of income held by the top one percent in 1979, various commentators have criticized me on several grounds: not discussing wealth inequality; not seeing the long rise in inequality; picking selective years to make my points; helping the right wing; overemphasizing the effect of transfers because of the rise of Social Security and Medicare and failing to appreciate the difficulties of middle class people and exaggerating the effects on the rich.

I have an odd intellectual history in that I was one of the first researchers to report on rising inequality in the late 1970s  and 1980s, yet have for the

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Does Technology Make Most Workers Worse Off?

Since the early dawn of industrialization, many have argued that new technological advances would make things worse for large swaths of the working class. Most famously, the Luddites in the 1810s in England destroyed the new textile machines that threatened their jobs. In the early 1970s, longshoreman in many US ports went on strike to stop the spread of containerization as the dominant form of transport of goods between countries, and they were no more successful than the Luddites in stopping innovations that reduce costs. More generally, in the 1950s and 1960s, many critics argued that “automation” would lead to a permanent class of excess workers.

The current crop of negativists are once again predicting the decline of middle class jobs and purport to have some data to back their claims up. The most prominent proponent of the “disappearing middle jobs” thesis is David Autor from MIT. In series of papers and presentations, he finds a U-shaped curve in which low and high end jobs are growing while middle jobs are declining.

It appears to be a convincing case until one looks more closely at his approach. First, the male

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