Symbolic analysts -- the workers who make up the creative and knowledge economies -- have been hit by the current downturn, just as everyone else has. But over the long term, symbolic analysts will do just fine, as long as they stay away from job functions that are becoming routinized. They will continue to benefit from economic change. Computer technology gives them more tools for thinking, creating and communicating. The global market gives them more potential customers for their insights.

To be sure, symbolic analysts are popping up all over the world. More than half of all Fortune 500 companies say they're outsourcing some software development or expanding their own development centers outside the U.S. But apart from recessions, demand for symbolic analysts in the U.S. will continue to grow faster than the supply. Innovation creates that demand, and demand for it, in turn, generates more innovation.

It's simply wrong to assume a zero-sum game among nations. There is no finite amount of symbolic-analytic work to be parceled out around the globe. There is no limit to the capacity of the human brain to discover new problems needing to be solved, or to create better solutions to old problems. And there is no limit to the number of problems needing solutions.

In decades to come, nations with the highest percentages of their working populations able to do symbolic-analytic tasks will have the highest standard of living and be the most competitive internationally.

More after the jump.

--Robert Reich

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