The Workweek: A Round-Up of Labor Market Links for the Week Ending 10/14/16

This week’s labor market news on declining economy dynamism, tightening labor markets and why trucking for a living isn’t what it used to be.

Welcome back to The Workweek, the Indeed Hiring Lab’s round-up of the latest research, news, and perspectives that made us think deeply or differently about the labor market this week. It’s your guide to the most important new insights about work.

Here are our picks for this week:

Happy Gig Workers

A new study of “independent workers” — who “assemble various income streams and work independently” — finds that more of them do independent work by choice (70%) than out of necessity (30%). Furthermore, most of these freelancers, contractors, and on-demand workers do this independent work as supplemental income (56%) rather than as their primary income (44%). (McKinsey; write-ups in WSJ and FT)

Demographics = Destiny

What if the decades-long slowdown in economic growth and low interest rates was entirely predictable? That’s the suggestion of a new paper that pins these changes on demographic trends like the aging population, rather than on last decade’s global financial crisis. One implication: slower growth and lower rates might be the “new normal,” and economic policy can’t do much to change that. (New York Fed; write-up in Washington Post)

The Missing Tech Jobs

With all the wealth that technology companies have created, where are the jobs? Much computer and electronics manufacturing has moved to lower-cost countries, and robots can do more of the routine logistics work in companies like Amazon. As a result, the highest-valued tech companies today are worth more but employ fewer people than the highest-valued tech companies in 2000. (WSJ)

Does Work Keep You Healthy?

More than 40% of working-age men who are out of the labor force take pain medication daily. Plus, illness or disability is the top reason why working-age men are out of the labor force (for women, it’s child care, elder care, and other home responsibilities). While it’s hard to tease out whether poor health is responsible for the decline in men’s employment, these health challenges are a hurdle to returning to work. (Alan Krueger; write-up in Bloomberg View)

The Politics of Trusting Data

A new survey finds that economic anxiety is on the rise. But what really caught our eye was this partisan difference: 48% of Donald Trump’s supporters “completely distrust” the government’s economic data, compared with just 5% of Hillary Clinton’s supporters. (Marketplace)