The Workweek: A Round-Up of Labor Market Links for the Week Ending 1/13/16

This week’s labor market news on health care, taxing robots and the European periphery.

Here’s the latest 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.

These are our picks for this week:

Automation as Stealth Job-Killer

Trade, offshoring, and immigration get far more political attention than automation does as reasons for why jobs are at risk. One possible explanation for this is that automation is less visible and less subject to political negotiation. Another is that automation is often the result of increased business investment and results in increased productivity, which politicians wouldn’t want to criticize businesses for. (Harvard Business Review)

“Cronyism and Bullying”

Economists are generally supporters of free trade and globalization – unlike the voters that carried Trump and Brexit to victory. So it’s notable when an economist who has warned about the downsides of free trade and globalization criticizes Trump’s early attempts to preserve or create American jobs. Rather than “cronyism and bullying” through tweets, the right way to support specific workers or industries requires “transparency, accountability, and institutionalization.” (Project Syndicate)

Why Workers Get Less

The share of total income going to workers has fallen for decades, and wages haven’t grown as fast as productivity has. One culprit might be that firms have more say over pay than they would in a fully competitive market for workers. Why? Non-compete clauses that reduce workers’ bargaining power; health insurance and other benefits that make workers feel locked into their current job; and explicit agreements among companies not to compete for each others’ workers. (Pro-Market Blog)

How’s the Economy Doing Right Now?

The stream of economic data never stops, it doesn’t always point in the same direction, and it often gets revised. So what’s the best current indicator of how the economy is doing? Fortunately, it’s one that’s easy to find and gets plenty of attention: job growth as reported in the payroll survey in the monthly BLS jobs report. But ignore the jobs estimates from the household survey in that same report, and treat output measures like GDP as no more than a supporting actor. (U.S. Council of Economic Advisers)

Economic Anxiety vs. Economic Hardship

Did the economy help Trump win? The answer is clearer when we distinguish economic hardship from economic anxiety. Hardship refers to how bad things are today, while anxiety reflects how bad the future might be. It turns out that Trump didn’t fare particularly well in places with greater economic hardship, but found strong support in places with greater economic anxiety. (FiveThirtyEight)