Speaking yesterday in Michigan, Michelle Rhee warned that “close to 75 million jobs will have to be outsourced to India and China.” Therefore, she said in a leap of logic, the seniority system of teachers is slowly ruining our country’s future by not ensuring that it is developing an adequate workforce.
Not true on both counts, say economists at the Economic Policy Institute. First, her numbers are wrong and second, outsourcing has nothing to do with the quality of our teachers and the education system. Josh Bivens, EPI’s frequent media commentator on economic issues, points to two studies: a 2007 study by Alan Blinder, Princeton University, which estimated that between 22% and 29% of all jobs in the United States are potentially offshorable “within a decade or two”, and a 2008 study by J. Bradford Jensen and Lori G. Ketzler which predicted that the US would lose even fewer jobs.
The Blinder study suggests that as many as 40 million jobs could be at risk of being offshored over the next two decades— i.e. jobs that are potentially offshorable but not necessarily offshorable. Blinder also cautions that a number of other studies have yielded quite different, and often much lower, estimates than his.
The more recent study, by J. Bradford Jensen and Lori G. Ketzler, finds that between 15 and 20 million (representing between 11 – 15.3% of all US jobs) may be at risk of outsourcing. As the authors note, these losses may be offset by job gains related to the offshoring of service-sector work. The U.S. is currently a net exporter of services and likely to gain relatively high-wage, high-skill jobs through increased exports of services. By omitting these considerations, the authors warn, the discussion becomes unduly alarmist.
The real revelation from Rhee’s statements, however, is that she is now in bed with the U.S. chamber of Commerce, the chief promoter of outsourcing. (See tomorrow’s guest column for more)
Posted: 8:43PM, March 10, 2011