Both Livingston and Jorion say paid work in labor markets is destined to decline, but I think this is far from clear. A cursory look at the US statistics indicates as such. In the celebrated post-WWII US economy the civilian labor force participation rate never reached more than 58 percent in 1953 during the Korean War. Then, it fell to 55.2 percent in 1961. Congress held hearings on “automation.” But what is the labor force participation rate today? In April 2018 it was 60.3 percent. So more people are working today than during the vaunted golden age of capitalism, when Americans produced something instead of flipping burgers or houses. True, from its all time peak of 64.7 percent in 2000, the US labor force participation rate has declined ever since. And there is evidence that new technologies are biased towards replacing rather than augmenting labor. Jorion had the historical record wrong here, it seemed to me. During Industrial Revolution, often the machines created new demand for labor. When we talk about jobs disappearing lets be clear what we are talking about. We are talking about a certain kind of job that was the anchor of industrial society. We are talking about middle-income male employment. The crisis of work is a crisis for men. Who are “men” going to be in the future and what will they spend their days...Read More
Author: Jonathan Levy
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