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America’s Digitalization Divide

A new study maps digital-skilled jobs across industries, metro areas, and demographic groups, revealing deep divides.
relates to America’s Digitalization Divide
Amir Cohen/Reuters

We’ve long heard about America’s digital divide, but the nation is facing a parallel and deepening digitalization divide, too. According to a new Brookings Institution study, this digitalization divide is reflected in the increasingly uneven spread of high-paying digital jobs across the economy and workforce, by gender, race, and ethnicity, and across cities and metro areas.

Digitalization has transformed just about everything we do—from the way we work to our entertainment choices, and how we communicate with one another. It’s not just knowledge workers, smart phones, and laptops we’re talking about. Our cars, televisions, and appliances are loaded with software. Smart thermostats like Nest and voice activated “assistants” such as Alexa permeate our homes. Formerly manual jobs, like those of auto mechanics, are now more about the use of software than mechanical skills. Already, there is one smart phone for every person on Earth. And today, more than a tenth of Americans use a voice-activated personal assistant, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, around the house.