When offshoring methodically disemboweled the Rust Belt, white-collar Americans thrived, free to enjoy the spoils of globalization safe in the knowledge that their jobs could not be outsourced easily to cheap foreign rivals. Now, some economists say the remote-work revolution may have changed that almost overnight.“If you can do your job from home, be scared. Be very scared,” Richard Baldwin, an economist at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, said in a recent video. “Because somebody in India … or wherever is willing to do it for much less.”By greatly accelerating the adoption of remote work, the coronavirus pandemic has created a feedback loop that could be the most disruptive force to hit the job market since the blue-collar apocalypse in the 2000s, known among economists as the China shock...The highest-paying industries, software and internet publishing (including search and social networking), also have the highest share of remote workers. A similar pattern holds throughout the income scale, with the lowest-paying jobs — in places such as gas stations — being least likely to be done remotely...And while those jobs are concentrated in urban areas, many of them coastal, no industry or region would be untouched. As Zielinski points out, even blue-collar industries such as construction or manufacturing have plenty of white-collar roles that can be outsourced — think marketing, accounting, finance, sales and IT...Autor, Zandi and other economists say those full-remote jobs could ultimately be a positive for American white-collar workers, liberating them from high-cost urban areas and revitalizing small communities.
This is a complicated scenario, but an important one for young workers to ponder.