Related BLS programs | Related articles
February, 1986, Vol. 109, No. 2
from the electronics industry
In the U.S. electronic industry, competitiondomestic as well as internationalhas led to increases in labor productivity through changes in product design and automation and to transfers of manufacturing operations to low-wage developing countries. For example, in the consumer electronics industry, annual output of color television sets per production worker in the United States increased from 150 in 1971 to 560 in 1981. Total output nearly doubled, from 5.4 million sets to 10.5 million. At the same time, domestic employment in color television manufacture dropped by halfa result of greater foreign value-added, redesigned televisions with fewer parts and less need for assembly labor, and automation. The example is not atypical, the implications are clear: new technology can cut into job opportunities even though output rises substantially.
In two other sectors of the electronics industrymicroelectronics (which includes semiconductors) and computersemployment has grown rapidly. (The 1985 layoffs will, as in earlier business slumps, prove temporary.) Microelectronics technology made redesigned color television sets possible, and far more Americans now work for semiconductor manufacturers than were ever employed in consumer electronics. Skilled and professional jobs predominate in microelectronics, accounting for nearly 60 percent of employment, compared with about 30 percent in consumer electronics. Similar patterns exist elsewhere in high technology electronics: continuing advances in both products and processes leave relatively fewer openings for unskilled and semiskilled workers. Indeed, jobs for production workers in U.S. computer firms declined slightly during 1984, although overall employment in the computer sector rose.
This excerpt is from an article published in the February 1986 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
Read abstract Download full article in PDF (892K)
Related BLS programs
National Current Employment Statistics
Related Monthly Labor Review articles
Computer manufacturing: change and competition.—Aug. 1996.
Job creation and the emerging home computer market.—Aug. 1996.
Semiconductors: the building blocks of the information revolution.—Aug. 1996.
Within Monthly Labor Review Online:
Welcome | Current Issue | Index | Subscribe | Archives
Exit Monthly Labor Review Online:
BLS Home | Publications & Research Papers