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The polarization of job opportunities in the US labor market: Implications for employment and earnings

This paper analyzes the state of the U.S. labor market over the past three decades to inform policymaking on two fronts. The first is to rigorously document and place in historical and international context the trajectory of the U.S. labor market, focusing on the evolving earnings, employment rates, and labor market opportunities for workers with low, moderate, and high levels of education. The second is to illuminate the key forces shaping this trajectory, including: The slowing rate of four-year college degree attainment among young adults, particularly males; Shifts in the gender and racial composition of the workforce; Changes in technology, international trade, and the international offshoring of jobs, which affect job opportunities and skill demands; Changes in U.S. labor market institutions affecting wage setting, including labor unions and minimum wage legislation