Work Futures Weekly | Automation Discourse

The great American labor paradox: plentiful jobs, most of them bad. | Gwynn Guilford

Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

Beacon NY 2019–12–21 | I’m happy to say that I have a lot of interesting work on my plate. That’s nice, but it has gotten to the point that I had to resort to a spreadsheet to estimate the impact of one-more-project on the sanity quotient, my shorthand for work/life balance.

Work Futures Daily is a labor of love but I am kicking off a new phase and a new format, driven by the need to reduce the time involved in writing and editing it. Note that I am NOT planning to reduce my investment in research, but I will be more selective in what I surface in the Daily, and how it will be presented.

What I going to try is this. I’ll try to pick a single story that I think is important and focus on that in each issue, which I am limiting to three or four a week. I will also provide links to a handful of other stories, with a line or two of commentary. The Weekly will be similar, with a single in-depth story with one line summaries of the lead stories of each Daily. This is the first of the new Weeklies. (Note I have been so busy, I haven’t been doing weeklies on a weekly basis in months.)

Because of this new format, the subtitle of each Weekly and Daily will be a one-line description of the lead story, rather than a long series of teasers. (This is one of the tasks that made this time-consuming).

There are going to be other changes. Wish me luck.

Quote of the Day

The return of automation discourse is a symptom of our era, as it was in times past: it arises when the global economy’s failure to create enough jobs causes people to question its fundamental viability.

| Aaron Benanav, Automation and the Future of Work — 1

The Lead

The Job Quality Index is the economic indicator we’ve been missing | Gwynn Guilford offers up the essence of work in the US, today:

The great American labor paradox: plentiful jobs, most of them bad.

Which can now be measured:

A team of researchers thinks they may have uncovered the Rosetta Stone of the US labor market.

They recently unveiled the US Private Sector Job Quality Index (or JQI for short), a new monthly indicator that aims to track the quality of jobs instead of just the quantity. The JQI measures the ratio of what the researchers call “high-quality” versus “low-quality” jobs, based on whether the work offer more or less than the average income.

A reading of 100 means that there are equal numbers of the two groups, while anything less implies relatively lower-quality jobs.

And here’s the 30-year slump:

The bottom line is that fewer good jobs are being created. Time for that long-awaited infrastructure push, to get away from carbon-based energy.


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