Category Archives: Workforce

The Decline of Professionalism

Source: Rebecca Roiphe, Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Vol. 29, 2016

From the abstract:
Traditionally, professionalism conceived of the professions as central to democratic society. Because professionals gained their status through reputation not wealth, they were in the best position to suppress their own self-interest in order to ascertain and pursue the public good. This Article argues that this traditional understanding of the professions was lost as a market ideology took hold in the 1970s. Professionalism gradually became synonymous with the delivery of services. This Article draws on this intellectual history to argue that aspects of the traditional concept of professionalism can and should be revived today.

235,000 Job Growth in February Is Good News for the Economy, But State and Local Government Job Growth Remains Weak

Source: Lucy Dadayan, Donald J. Boyd, Rockefeller Institute of Government, By The Numbers, March 2017

• Nationally, state and local government employment is 1.5 percent below its prior peak, while private sector employment is 6.4 percent above its prior peak.
• State government employment nationally is 2.5 percent below its peak level and local government employment is 1.3 percent below its peak level.
• State government non-education employment, for services such as corrections, hospitals and other health care, public welfare, and highways, has fared the worst among the government subsectors —- currently, 5.5 percent below its peak even though the population has grown 6.9 percent over the same period.
• Local government education and non-education employment are 2.0 percent and 0.8 percent below their respective prior peaks, while elementary and secondary enrollment has risen by more than 2.0 percent during the same period.
• The only subsector that has grown is state government education employment for universities, colleges, and similar services; here employment is up 1.2 percent above the prior peak, but still far weaker than in previous economic recoveries.
• Although state and local government employment did not decline as much during the Great Recession as private sector employment, it has been recovering far more slowly and has regained the jobs lost to the Great Recession.

Work in and beyond the Second Machine Age: the politics of production and digital technologies

Source: David Spencer, Work, employment and society, Vol 31, Issue 1, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, in their widely read and politically impactful book The Second Machine Age, highlight the costs and benefits of digital technologies for the volume and quality of work and identify reforms designed to ensure that digital technologies deliver net advantages to workers and society more generally. This article offers a critique of their thesis. Specifically, it criticizes the authors for their neglect of the nexus between the politics of production and digital technologies. They fail, in short, to grasp the importance of power relations for the form, direction and outcomes of digital technologies. The article argues for an alternative view of the progress of digital technologies that is rooted in an understanding of the political economy of capitalism. In this respect, it draws on and applies ideas and concepts from Marxian political economy.

Understanding the Economic Impact of the H-1B Program on the U.S.

Source: John Bound, Gaurav Khanna, Nicolas Morales, NBER Working Paper No. 23153, February 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Over the 1990s, the share of foreigners entering the US high-skill workforce grew rapidly. This migration potentially had a significant effect on US workers, consumers and firms. To study these effects, we construct a general equilibrium model of the US economy and calibrate it using data from 1994 to 2001. Built into the model are positive effects high skilled immigrants have on innovation. Counterfactual simulations based on our model suggest that immigration increased the overall welfare of US natives, and had significant distributional consequences. In the absence of immigration, wages for US computer scientists would have been 2.6% to 5.1% higher and employment in computer science for US workers would have been 6.1% to 10.8% higher in 2001. On the other hand, complements in production benefited substantially from immigration, and immigration also lowered prices and raised the output of IT goods by between 1.9% and 2.5%, thus benefiting consumers. Finally, firms in the IT sector also earned substantially higher profits due to immigration.
Related:
Using H-1B Visas To Help Outsource IT Work Draws Criticism, Scrutiny
Source: NPR, All Things Considered, February 13, 2017

Immigration Restrictions as Active Labor Market Policy: Evidence from the Mexican Bracero Exclusion

Source: Michael A. Clemens, Ethan G. Lewis, Hannah M. Postel, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 23125, February 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
An important class of active labor market policy has received little rigorous impact evaluation: immigration barriers intended to improve the terms of employment for domestic workers by deliberately shrinking the workforce. Recent advances in the theory of endogenous technical change suggest that such policies could have limited or even perverse labor-market effects, but empirical tests are scarce. We study a natural experiment that excluded almost half a million Mexican ‘bracero’ seasonal agricultural workers from the United States, with the stated goal of raising wages and employment for domestic farm workers. We build a simple model to clarify how the labor-market effects of bracero exclusion depend on assumptions about production technology, and test it by collecting novel archival data on the bracero program that allow us to measure state-level exposure to exclusion for the first time. We cannot reject the hypothesis that bracero exclusion had no effect on U.S. agricultural wages or employment, and find that important mechanisms for this result include both adoption of less labor-intensive technologies and shifts in crop mix.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would cost jobs in every state

Source: Josh Bivens, Economic Policy Institute, January 31, 2017

From the press release:
A new report by EPI Research Director Josh Bivens finds that repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will cost the economy 1.2 million jobs in 2019, with jobs lost in every state. The report looks at the effects of cuts to both spending and taxes that would occur under a full repeal.

The $109 billion in spending cuts would have a disproportionally negative effect on states with the highest share of low and middle-income families and those states that took up the ACA Medicaid expansion, while the $70 billion tax cuts would disproportionately benefit those states with the largest share of households in the top 1 percent. Because low- and moderate-income households tend to spend a much higher share of marginal increases in disposable income, the overall effect of ACA repeal would be less spending and slower demand growth across all states…..
Related:
Summary

CBO’s Long-Term Projections of Labor Force Participation

Source: Joshua Montes, Xiaotong Niu, and Julie Topoleski, Congressional Budget Office blog, January 13, 2017

In preparing the economic forecast underlying its forthcoming report on the budget and economic outlook, CBO updated its projections of labor force participation. In this blog post, we explain those updates and compare them with the agency’s previous projections and with those of the Social Security Trustees. The full economic forecast will be described in The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017 to 2027, which will be released on January 24.

What Are CBO’s Current Projections of Labor Force Participation?
CBO projects that the rate of labor force participation (that is, the number of people who are either working or seeking work as a share of the civilian noninstitutionalized population age 16 or older) will decline from 62.8 percent in 2017 to 61.0 percent in 2027 and to 59.2 percent in 2047—constituting a drop of 3.7 percentage points over 30 years (see the figure below). The projected decline in the participation rate is faster for men than for women. ….

Harnessing automation for a future that works

Source: James Manyika, Michael Chui, Mehdi Miremadi, Jacques Bughin, Katy George, Paul Willmott, and Martin Dewhurst, McKinsey Global Institute, January 2017

From the summary:
Automation is happening, and it will bring substantial benefits to businesses and economies worldwide, but it won’t arrive overnight. A new McKinsey Global Institute report finds realizing automation’s full potential requires people and technology to work hand in hand.
Related:
Executive summary
Appendix

Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet)

Source: Michael Chui, James Manyika, and Mehdi Miremadi, McKinsey Quarterly, July 2016

The technical potential for automation differs dramatically across sectors and activities….

As automation technologies such as machine learning and robotics play an increasingly great role in everyday life, their potential effect on the workplace has, unsurprisingly, become a major focus of research and public concern. The discussion tends toward a Manichean guessing game: which jobs will or won’t be replaced by machines?

In fact, as our research has begun to show, the story is more nuanced. While automation will eliminate very few occupations entirely in the next decade, it will affect portions of almost all jobs to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the type of work they entail. Automation, now going beyond routine manufacturing activities, has the potential, as least with regard to its technical feasibility, to transform sectors such as healthcare and finance, which involve a substantial share of knowledge work….

Could a machine do your job?
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