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10 surprises about tomorrow's job market

In sharp contrast to today's tepid job growth, employment will pick up later this decade and feature some unusual twists – from the rise of sales jobs to the dearth of 'green' ones. Here's a guide to help navigate it.

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The relationship between men and college has always been complicated. The GI Bill boosted male enrollment after World War II. During the Vietnam War, many young men opted for college as a way to defer military service. Since 1979, real earnings for high school graduates and dropouts have fallen while those for males with a four-year degree have risen only 10 percent, according to Professor Autor of MIT. By contrast, women with a four-year degree have seen a 29 percent boost in earnings.

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"For males, it is more a matter of running just to keep in the same place," he writes.

Will this be the decade in which more men flock to college?

10. Who will pick all the lettuce?

The flood of illegal immigrants that poured into the US during the 1980s, '90s, and 2000s came to an abrupt halt with the Great Recession. Economic downturns typically slow the influx, which picks up again in a recovery. But this time looks different.

The number of illegal immigrants actually dropped from 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2011, according to the US Census Bureau.

"The era of great Mexican migration is probably over," says Allert Brown-Gort, a fellow at Notre Dame University's Kellogg Institute for International Studies in South Bend, Ind. He expects only a modest increase in Mexican immigrants as the recovery takes hold because much has changed along the US border and in Mexico itself. For one thing, the border is more secure than it was. For another, stories of smugglers robbing their customers – and worse – have been widely documented in Mexico.

Then there are demographic forces. "Immigration is a young person's game," Mr. Brown-Gort says. But Mexico is producing fewer young people as the fertility rate of Mexican women has plummeted.

So who will take those low-end jobs that new Mexican immigrants typically filled? In the health-care sector, at least, it looks as if it will be other immigrants.

Across the hall from Ms. Perez's class at the Red Cross in Cambridge, Mass., another nurse assistant/home health aide class is under way with students from all over the world: the Dominican Republic, Colombia, the Czech Republic, China. Before starting their training, they spent 10 weeks improving their English, learning medical terms and computer skills. For many, a job as a nurse assistant or home health aide is a first step on a ladder that they want to climb.

"I want to do nurse-assistant training," says Khadija El Hamraoui of Morocco. "And if I have a chance to do it: registered nurse [training]."

"I will get some experience" as a nurse assistant, says Arum Kafley, a refugee from Bhutan. "I am trying to get into college."

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