Routinization, within-occupation task changes and long-run employment dynamics

Davide Consoli, Giovanni Marin, Francesco Rentocchini, Francesco Vona
Research Policy

The present study adds to the literature on routinization and employment by capturing within-occupation task changes over the period 1980–2010. The main contributions are the measurement of such changes and the combination of two data sources on occupational task content for the United States: the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) and the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). We show that within-occupation reorientation away from routine tasks: i) accounts for 1/3 of the decline in routine-task use; ii) accelerated in the 1990s, decelerated in the 2000s but with significant convergence across occupations; and iii) allowed workers to escape the employment and wage decline, conditional on the initial level of routine-task intensity. The latter finding suggests that task reorientation is a key channel through which labour markets adapt to various forms of labour-saving technological change.