The Workweek: A Round-Up of Labor Market Links for the Week Ending 9/30/16

This week’s labor market news on the future of the cashier, automotive manufacturing and rent-seeking behavior.

Welcome to The Workweek, the Indeed Hiring Lab’s new weekly round-up, highlighting research, news, and perspectives on the labor market and the future of work.

Starting today, every Friday morning we’ll share a set of links that grabbed our attention in the past week. They might be wonky academic research, intriguing opinions, recent data releases, or in-depth features — anything that made us think deeply or differently about the job market. It’s your guide to the most important new insights about work.

Here are our picks for this week:

More Job Hopping

Median job tenure — which is how long the typical worker has been with their current employer — fell a bit in 2016 versus 2014. The economic recovery helped, with more people getting new jobs and more having the confidence to quit. Yet the biggest long-term change in job tenure is the sharp decline for older men: 10.2 years in 2016 versus 15.3 in 1983. The job-for-life is rarer than it used to be. (WSJ and BLS)

Embracing the Robots

Though much of the anxiety about the future of work is the fear of robots taking our jobs, here’s a (somewhat) contrarian view: robots will jumpstart much-needed productivity growth. “Robots displacing human labour isn’t the problem: it’s the whole point.” That’s how innovation happens, argues economics journalist Ben Chu. (The Independent)

Monday’s Presidential Debate — For Wonks

Count on Ben Casselman at FiveThirtyEight to be serious about the substance. He did a post-debate breakdown of what we learned (or heard again) about Clinton’s and Trump’s policies, starting with trade and taxes — and what they mean for jobs. It was “as if they were talking about two different countries.” (FiveThirtyEight)

The Real Gig Economy

The share of workers in “alternative work arrangements” — that is, freelancing, contracting, temping, or doing on-call work — jumped from 10.7% in 2005 to 15.8% in 2015. Only a sliver (0.5%) of this, however, was through online platforms like Uber. Most interesting: older workers are the most likely to be doing gig work now and had the biggest increase over the past decade. (NBER, though posted originally in March 2016)

Downhill After 40

The aging of the population slows down the economy in various ways; it’s a big reason why labor-force participation has fallen. But here’s a new, er, wrinkle: “the aging of the US population will continue to act as a headwind to labor productivity and wage growth” because a person’s wages tend to flatten out and then decline after 40. Look out. (New York Fed)