Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork
About Adam Ozimek Dr. Adam Ozimek is the chief economist at Upwork, the largest freelancing website, where he leads research on labor market trends. Previously, he was a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics where he managed U.S. demographics forecasts and research. Prior to that, he was the Director of Research for Econsult Solutions, an economics consulting firm in Philadelphia. Ozimek, an expert in the functioning of labor markets, produces research in a broad array of economics fields including demographics, monetary policy and immigration. He has written for the Forbes Modeled Behavior blog and his research has been cited in publications including the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Ozimek holds a PhD in economics from Temple University.
In 2007 an economist predicted U.S. service sector jobs were at high risk of being offshored. Data now shows that instead they are going remote.Executive Summary Advancing technology is unlocking great potential in remote work opportunities by making it increasingly easy for work that used to be done in person to now be done remotely. Yet these changes have led some researchers to worry about the offshoring of U.S. jobs. In one influential estimate from 2007, economist Alan Blinder projected that a quarter or more of U.S. jobs were at risk of being offshored. In this report, we take a look at the data from the decade-plus since this warning was issued and find that the techno-pessimism was misplaced. Instead of being offshored, the types of work predicted to be at risk of offshoring are increasingly being performed remotely by workers within the U.S. While technology may be giving firms the choice of hiring workers from around the globe, this is not translating to job loss. Instead, it’s leading to more U.S. workers enjoying the greater freedom, flexibility, and shorter commutes of remote work. This analysis investigates the growth of remote work in the U.S. using Census Bureau data, unique surveys and data from Upwork, the largest online work website. The key results are as follows:
- Contrary to popular predictions made in 2007, offshoring risk is not related to job loss for hundreds of occupations.
- Instead, those jobs predicted as “at risk” of being offshored are significantly more remote work based today.
- Data from Upwork shows that U.S. knowledge workers retain a competitive advantage even in a global marketplace, and are in demand from both U.S. businesses and businesses around the world.
- Young business owners and hiring managers are more comfortable with remote work, and younger workers are more likely to want to work remotely, which suggests the remote work trend will continue to grow based on demographic change alone.
- Instead of focusing on how demand might shift overseas, research should consider how remote work could help shift demand within the U.S. to lower cost of living areas that are currently lacking in economic opportunity.
- Must the work be done at a particular location?
- Will quality of the good or service be degraded by delivering it remotely?
¹"How Many U.S. Jobs Might Be Offshorable?" CEPS working paper no. 142, March 2007. ² Models include weighted by 2007 occupation and unweighted. Risk scores below 25 are truncated at 25 due to Blinder not coding these and simply considering them “unoffshorable.” Models excluding those truncated observations are included as well. Finally, multiple occupations in Blinder’s data were sometimes matched to a single occupation in the ACS data due to the use of different occupation codes. Matching was done using a crosswalk of SOC code to ACS occupation code produced by the BLS, but some occupations were weighted averaged. As a robustness test, any occupations that were averaged and did not have the same offshoring risk score were dropped in one model. Across all models results remain statistically insignificant. ³ The U.S. ranks near the top for PPP adjusted GDP per hour worked according to OECD data https://data.oecd.org/chart/5CFx 4 This excludes those who report working mostly remote but indicate their primary work location is in a traditional employer office, traveling, or at a customer focused location.