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High-touch and here-to-stay: Future skills demands in US low wage service occupations

Interactive service occupations, requiring face-to-face contact, are rapidly growing in the US as they are typically not susceptible to larger trends of offshoring and computerization. Yet conventional paradigms of understanding the nature of that work, and in particular the skill demands, are often ill equipped to deal with the ‘interactive’ aspects of these gendered and racialized occupations. As a result, discussions of lower-end service occupations have typically grouped together a variety of jobs that require little or no higher education, without examining the actual skill content and job requirements of these occupations. In this article we delve more deeply into the rapidly growing non-professional service occupations in the US and the level of skills these jobs require, with the intention of creating a framework that will reorient future sociological research in this area.