Trade, Jobs and Wages; April 1994; Scientific American Magazine; by Krugman, Lawrence; 6 Page(s)
The real wage of the average American worker more than doubled between the end of World War II and 1973. Since then, however, those wages have risen only 6 percent. Furthermore, only highly educated workers have seen their compensation rise; the real earnings of blue-collar workers have fallen in most years since 1973.
Why have wages stagnated? A consensus among business and political leaders attributes the problem in large part to the failure of the U.S. to compete effectively in an increasingly integrated world economy. This conventional wisdom holds that foreign competition has eroded the U.S. manufacturing base, washing out the high-paying jobs that a strong manufacturing sector provides. More broadly, the argument goes, the nation's real income has lagged as a result of the inability of many U.S. firms to sell in world markets. And because imports increasingly come from Third World countries with their huge reserves of unskilled labor, the heaviest burden of this foreign competition has ostensibly fallen on less educated American workers.