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Internet Could Threaten Millions of U.S. Jobs, Blinder Tells CNBC

The delivery of information and services via the Internet could threaten as many as 40 million U.S. jobs in the next 20 years, Princeton University economist Alan Blinder told CNBC.

“If you look back in history, (overseas job loss) has been concentrated in manufacturing,” Blinder said Wednesday on CNBC’s “Street Signs.” “But I think as you look forward, one of the dominant forces, if not the dominant force, will be the electronic delivery of services, including upper end services – computer programming, manuscript editing, science, accounting.”

Other jobs at risk to electronic delivery, Blinder says, also include interpreters, translators, mathematicians, economists and financial analysts.

Blinder, a former Federal Reserve Board vice chairman and adviser to Democratic presidential candidates, opposes tariffs and trade barriers but believes the government should do more for workers whose jobs are lost to cheap foreign competition.

He says the U.S. needs to revamp its education system to prepare students for jobs that are likely to say here. He suggests that the tax code be revised to encourage companies to create and maintain jobs in the United States.

Blinder says nations must concentrate on their comparative advantage and stress what they do best in the global market. He notes that trade with low-wage countries such as China and India is good business for them and can create jobs in the United States.

Blinder says the upper levels of the job market are poised to change in a fashion similar to the shift that hit factory workers a generation ago. He suggested that the nation re-think unemployment insurance and make health insurance and retirement funds portable.

“What I’m trying to call attention to is what’s likely to happen as the technology improves over the next 10 to 20 years,” Blinder told CNBC.