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What If Middle-Class Jobs Disappear?

       A. The most recent recession in the United States began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. However, two years after the official end of the recession, few Americans would say that economic troubles are behind us. The unemployment rate, in particular, remains above 9%. Some labor market indicators, such as the proportion of long-term unemployed, are worse now than for any postwar recession.
  B. There are two widely circulated narratives to explain what's going on. The Keynesian narrative is that there has been a major drop in aggregate demand. According to this narrative, the slump can be largely cured by using monetary and fiscal (财政的) stimulus. The main anti-Keynesian narrative is that businesses are suffering from uncertainty and over-regulation. According to this narrative, the slump can be cured by having the government commit to and follow a more hands-off approach.
  C. I want to suggest a third interpretation. Without ruling out a role for aggregate demand or for the regulatory environment, I wish to suggest that structural change is an important factor in the current rate of high unemployment. The economy is in a state of transition, in which the middle-class jobs that emerged after World War [[ have begun to decline. As Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee put it in a recent e-book Race Against the Machine :"The root of our problems is not that we're in a great recession, or a great stagnation (停滞), but rather that we are in the early throes (阵痛) of a great restructuring."
  D. In fact, I believe the Great Depression of the 1930s can also be interpreted in part as an economic transition. The impact of the internal combustion engine (内燃机) and the small electric motor on farming and manufacturing reduced the value of uneducated laborers. Instead, by the 1950s, a middle class of largely clerical (从事文秘工作的) workers was the most significant part of the labor force.
     Between 1930 and 1950, the United States economy underwent a great transition. Demand fell for human effort such as lifting, squeezing, and hammering. Demand increased for workers who could read and follow directions. The evolutionary process eventually changed us from a nation of laborers to a nation of clerks.
  E. The proportion of employment classified as "clerical workers" grew from 5.2% in 1910 to a peak of 19.3% in 1980. (However, by 2000 this proportion had edged down to 17.4%.) Overall, workers classified as clerical workers, technical workers, managers and officials exceeded 50% of the labor force by 2000. Corresponding declines took place in the manual occupations. Workers classified as laborers, other than farm hands or miners, peaked at 11.4% of the labor force in 1920 but were barely 6% by 1950 and less than 4% by 2000. Farmers and farm laborers fell from 33% of the labor force in 1910 to less than 15% by 1950 and only 1.2% in 2000.
  F. The introduction of the tractor and improvements in the factory rapidly reduced the demand for uneducated workers. By the 1930s, a marginal farm hand could not produce enough to justify his employment. Sharecropping, never much better than a subsistence occupation, was no longer viable (可行的). Meanwhile, machines were replacing manufacturing occupations like cigar rolling and glass blowing for light bulbs.
  G. The structural-transition interpretation of the unemployment problem of the 1930s would be that the demand for uneducated workers in the United States had fallen, but the supply remained high. The high school graduation rate was only 8.8% in 1912 and still just 29% in 1931. By 1950, it had reached 59%. With a new generation of workers who had completed high school, the mismatch between skills and jobs had been greatly reduced.
  H. What took place after World War [[ was not the revival of a 1920s economy, with its small farmingunits, urban manufacturing, and plurality of laborers. Instead, the 1950s saw the creation of a new suburban economy, with a plurality of white-collar workers. With an expanded transportation and communications infrastructure (基础设施), businesses needed telephone operators, shipping clerks and similar occupations. If you could read, follow simple instructions, and settle into a routine, you could find a job in the post-war economy.
   I. The trend away from manual labor has continued. Even within the manufacturing sector, the share of production and non-supervisory workers in manufacturing employment went from over 85% just after World War [I to less than 70% in more recent years. To put this another way, the proportion of white-collar work in manufacturing has doubled over the past 50 years. On the factory floor itself, work has become less physically demanding. Instead, it requires more cognitive skills and the ability to understand and carry out well-defined procedures.
   J. As noted earlier, the proportion of clerical workers in the economy peaked in 1980. By that date, computers and advanced communications equipment had already begun to affect telephone operations and banking. The rise of the personal computer, and the Internet has widened the impact of these technologies to include nearly every business and industry.
   K. The economy today differs from that of a generation ago. Mortgage and consumer loan underwriters (风险评估人) have been replaced by credit scoring. Record stores have been replaced by music downloads. Book stores are closing, while sales of books on electronic readers have increased. Data entry has been moved off shore. Routine customer support also has been outsourced (外包) overseas.
  L. These trends serve to limit the availability of well-defined jobs. If a job can be characterized by a précis eset of instructions, then that job is a candidate to be automated or outsourced to modestly educated workers in developing countries. The result is what David Aut or calls the polarization of the American job market.
  M. Using the latest Census Bureau data, Matthew Slaughter found that from 2000 to 2010 the real earnings of college graduates (with no advanced degree) fell by more in percentage terms than the earnings of high school graduates. In fact, over this period the only education category to show an increase in earnings was those with advanced degrees.
  N. The outlook for mid-skill jobs would not appear to be bright. Communications technology and computer intelligence continue to improve, putting more occupations at risk. For example, many people earn a living as drivers, including trucks and taxicabs. However, the age of driverless vehicles appears to be moving closer. Another example is in the field of education. In the fall of 2011, an experiment with an online course in artificial intelligence conducted by two Stanford professors drew tens of thousands of registrants (报名者). This increases the student-teacher ratio by a factor of close to a thousand. Imagine the number of teaching jobs that might be eliminated if this could be done for math, economics, chemistry, and so on.
  O. It's important to bear in mind that when we offer a structural interpretation of unemployment, a "loss of jobs" means an increase in productivity. Traditionally, economists have argued that productivity increases are a good thing, even though they may cause unemployment for some workers in the short run. In the long run, the economy does not run out .of jobs. Rather, new jobs emerge as old jobs disappear. The story we tell is that average well-being rises, and the more people are able to adapt, the more widespread the improvement becomes。


White-collar workers accounted for more than half of the labor force by the end of the 20th century.

    • 解题思路:由题干中的half of the labor force和by theend of the 20th century定位到E段第三句。细节辨认题。定位句提到,到2000年,被划分为文职人员、技术工人、管理人员和行政人员的劳动者超过了劳动力总数的50%,该句中的clerical workers.technical workers,managers and officials就是指题干中的White.Collar workers。题干中的accounted for more than half of the labor force对应定位句中的exceeded 50% of the labor force,by the end of the 20th century对应定位句中的by 2000,故答案为E。

    2.[选词填空]The popularity of online courses may eliminate many teaching jobs.
      • 解题思路:由题干中的0nline courses,eliminate和teaching jobs定位到N段倒数第三旬和最后一句。细节归纳题。N段倒数第三句提到,两位斯坦福大学教授进行的人工智能在线课程的实验吸引了数以万计的报名者。N段最后一句提到,如果数学、经济学、化学等课程也开设在线课程的话,那么大量的教学岗位会被淘汰。题干中的may eliminate many teaching jobs对应定位句中的teaching jobs that might be eliminated,故答案为N。

      3.[选词填空]The creation of a suburban economy in the 1950s created lots of office jobs.
        • 解题思路:由题干中的suburban economy以及the 1950s定位到H段第二句。细节辨认题。定位句提到,20世纪50年代建立了拥有大量白领工人的新郊区经济。题干中的lots of office jobs对应定位句中的a plurality of white—collar workers,故答案为H。

        4.[选词填空]One economics theory suggests using monetary and fiscal stimulus to cope with an economic recession.
          • 解题思路:由题干中的monetary and fiscal stimulus定位到B段第三句。细节辨认题。定位句提到,根据该说法,经济不景气可以通过使用货币和财政刺激基本上得到解决。此处的该说法是指前一句中提到的凯恩斯主义的说法,与题干中的One economics theory对应。题干中的cope with对应定位句中的cured,economic recession对应定位句中的the slump,故答案为B。

          5.[选词填空]Computer technology has brought about revolutionary changes in the record and book business.
            • 解题思路:由题干中的record and book business定位到K段第三、四句。细节推断题。J段末句提到,个人电脑和互联网的兴起已扩大了这些技术的影响,几乎影响了所有的企业和行业。接着定位句中具体介绍了个人电脑和互联网对各行各业的影响,如唱片店已被音乐下载所取代,书店在倒闭,而电子书的销量却在增加。由此可推知,音乐下载和电子书这些电脑技术导致唱片和图书行业发生了革命性的变化。题干中的Computer technology是对定位句中的music downloads和books on electronic readers的归纳,故答案为K。

            6.[选词填空]The unemployment rate remained high even two years after the government declared the recent recession was over.
              • 解题思路:由题干中的The unemployment rate和two years after定位到A段第二、三句。细节辨认题。定位句指出,在官方宣布经济衰退结束的两年后,没有几个美国人会说已经摆脱了经济问题,尤其是失业率,仍然保持在9%以上。题干中的remained high对应定位句中的remains above 9%,the government…over对应定位句中的the official end of the recession,故答案为A。

              7.[选词填空]In the first decade of the 21st century, only people with postgraduate degrees experienced an increase it earnings.
                • 解题思路:由题干中的the first decade of the 21st century和an increase in earnings定位到M段。细节辨认题。定段首旬提到,从2000年至2010年,高校毕业生(无高级学位的)的实际收入下降的比例比高中毕业生的要多,这里的高级学位是指本科以上的学位;定位段第二旬指出,事实上,在此期间,唯一显示收入增加的教育类别就是那些具有高级学位的毕业生。题干中的In thefirst decade of the 21st century对应定位段中的from 2000 t02010。with postgraduate degrees对应定位段中的with advanced degrees,故答案为M。

                8.[选词填空]Increases in productivity prove beneficial though some people may lose their jobs temporarily.
                  • 解题思路:由题干中的Increases in productivity和lose their jobs temporarily定位到O段第一、二句。细节辨认题。定位句提到,“失业”意味着生产力的提高。从传统意义上来说,经济学家们认为,生产力的提高是一件好事,即使可能会导致一些工人在短期内失业。题干中的lose their jobs temporarily对应定位句中的cause unemployment for some workers in the short run,故答案为O。

                  9.[选词填空]The author suggests that the recent high unemployment rate is mainly caused by a decrease of middleclass jobs.
                    • 解题思路:由题干中的high unemployment rate和middle.class jobs定位到C段第二、三句。细节推断题。C.段第二句提到作者想表明的是,结构变化是当前高失业率的一个重要因素。紧接着在第三句提到,经济正处于转型期,二战以后出现的中产阶级的工作岗位已经开始减少。题干中的the recent high unemployment rate对应定位句中的the current rate of high unemployment,decrease对应定位句中的decline,故答案为C。

                    10.[选词填空]Even factory floor work today has become intellectually challenging rather than physically demanding.
                      • 解题思路:由题干中的factory floor和physically demandin9定位到I段倒数第二句。细节归纳题。定位句提到,在工厂车间,工作已不那么需要体力劳动;最后一句接着指出,相反,它需要更多的认知技能,以及理解和执行明确程序的能力,即对智力的挑战。题干是对定位句的归纳总结,故答案为I。
                      • 参考答案:E,N,H,B,K,A,M,O,C,I