The Workweek: A Round-Up of Labor Market Links for the Week Ending 1/20/16

This week’s labor market news on H1-B Visa program and the death of the retail store

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:

Technological change and lifelong learning

Many believe that technological change only strengthens the case for more formal education, but the reality seems to be more complex. A college degree at the start of a career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills, especially as people’s work lives grow longer. One solution? Build a system that fosters and incentivizes learning across a worker’s entire career. To achieve that however, employers and policymakers will have to overcome plenty of challenges. (The Economist)

The machine is your friend

A new study argues that only a tiny fraction of all occupations can be fully replaced by automation. But in the next forty or so years technology could take over 50% of the tasks carried out by workers today. In order to fully reap the benefits in terms of enhanced productivity and economic growth, workers across all industries need to be prepared to acquire new skills so they can be complementary to new technologies. (Wall Street Journal)

The president’s impact on the economy

How much can a president influence the economy? The answer is: Less than we might think. Presidential performance is highly dependent on the stage the economic cycle is at whenever an administration takes office, as well as demographic and technological factors beyond the control of the White House. Even in areas where the president does wield real influence over the economy, it may take years before any results are visible and — at that point it may be difficult to link them to a specific policy. (The Upshot)

Manufacturing today is radically different from the past

Despite what they might promise, politicians will not be able to bring back the well-paid manufacturing jobs for the less skilled that used to be plentiful in much of America’s Midwest. This is because the factories and jobs did not simply go overseas, but the sector was transformed by technology-driven changes in the ways products are designed, manufactured and distributed. As a result, these jobs no longer exist. Today’s manufacturing sector is very different, as innovation means the quantity and type of jobs —as well as where they are located — all look very different from the past. (The Economist)

The jobs that immigrants do

Indeed Chief Economist Jed Kolko dives into Census Bureau data to dissect the occupational, educational and geographical background of immigrants in the U.S., with a particular focus on those who arrived in recent years. These immigrants tend to be more educated, come from different parts of the world, and are more likely to work in professional and technical jobs than earlier immigrants. These shifts provide insight into which occupations, workers, employers, and consumers might be most impacted—”for better or for worse”—by future changes to immigration policy. (Wall Street Journal)