Wall Street Journal:
The American labor market and middle class was once built on the routine job–workers showed up at factories and offices, took their places on the assembly line or the paper-pushing chain, did the same task over and over, and then went home.
New research from Henry Siu at the University of British Columbia and Nir Jaimovich from Duke University shows just how much the world of routine work has collapsed. The economists released a paper today, published by the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, showing that over the course of the last two recessions and recoveries, a period beginning in 2001, the economy’s job growth has come entirely from nonroutine work. ...
In the late 1980s, routine cognitive jobs were held by about 17% of the population and routine manual jobs by about 16%. Today, that’s declined to about 13.5% and 12%.What does this have to do with Social Security? A high percentage of people applying for Social Security disability benefits have low cognitive abilities as well as other physical or mental impairments. Often, these people are denied Social Security disability benefits based up a finding that work involving only "simple, routine, repetitive tasks" or SRRT is available that they can do. The SRRT category is also often used to deny people who have normal cognitive abilities but who have psychiatric problems. I've always thought that questionable since psychiatric problems mostly affect the ability to show up for work, get along with other people and concentrate upon the job at hand, all of which have little to do with the complexity of the work being performed but, rightly or wrongly, SRRT is used as a catchall category for many people with psychiatric problems. However, as this study shows, the SRRT jobs are disappearing. You can't "cure" low cognitive abilities in adults with education or training. It's a fixed limitation. If SRRT jobs are disappearing, Social Security ought to be approving more people limited to SRRT.