Prettier Jobs Picture
Virginia Postrel has a NYT Magazine piece entitled, “A Prettier Jobs Picture?”
Productivity has risen rapidly over the past year, to the astonishment and delight of most economists. But a lot of people are still worried. What if increased productivity means that jobs disappear? Could the economy get too efficient? All over the world, even in China, factories are producing more stuff with fewer workers. On the Internet, visionaries fret over the rise of robots, while programmers denounce American companies for ”outsourcing” their once-secure jobs to Indian engineers. Is this the recession — or the recovery — that does away with American jobs for good?
Many of the jobs that disappeared in the recent recession have indeed vanished forever, according to a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Those workers will not be recalled as the economy improves. New jobs will have to be genuinely new, created in new or expanding enterprises.
She goes on to list several occupations populated by entrepreneurs or tiny mom-and-pop operations, that account for hundreds of thousands of largely uncounted jobs. This is an interesting dynamic indeed. One would think, though, that government tracking of this type of enterprise would have always been lagging, so I’m not sure why they would be particularly undercounted now.