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Home / Jared Bernstein: On the economy / The challenges raised by the future of work look a lot like the same ones we’ve always wrestled with.

The challenges raised by the future of work look a lot like the same ones we’ve always wrestled with.

Summary:
Over at WaPo. There’s a consensus of sorts that the future of work will be uniquely shaped by the gig economy and labor-displacing technology. At the risk of putting a damper on millions of conference sessions on this topic, I think we should be much less confident in our ability to predict the structure of work or the possibility of technological unemployment. As new work from Larry Mishel reveals, the gig economy is a tiny share of the whole. We also do not see accelerated labor displacement in the productivity numbers (to the contrary). But as I stress in the piece, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about ways to improve the quality of future (and present!) jobs. In fact, there’s a robust policy agenda that should be brought to bear, some of which is highly responsive to the increase

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Over at WaPo.

There’s a consensus of sorts that the future of work will be uniquely shaped by the gig economy and labor-displacing technology. At the risk of putting a damper on millions of conference sessions on this topic, I think we should be much less confident in our ability to predict the structure of work or the possibility of technological unemployment.

As new work from Larry Mishel reveals, the gig economy is a tiny share of the whole. We also do not see accelerated labor displacement in the productivity numbers (to the contrary).

But as I stress in the piece, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about ways to improve the quality of future (and present!) jobs. In fact, there’s a robust policy agenda that should be brought to bear, some of which is highly responsive to the increase in “arms-length” employment, where the distance between employer and worker is growing in ways that can undermine labor protections.

Jared Bernstein
Jared Bernstein joined the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in May 2011 as a Senior Fellow. From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, Executive Director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Bernstein was a senior economist and the director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute, and between 1995 and 1996, he held the post of Deputy Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.

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