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.
These are our picks for this week:
Why are workers getting a smaller piece of the pie?
If there’s one development that’s been puzzling economists for years, it’s the declining share of national income that goes to labor. Noah Smith reviews four widely cited reasons explaining the slide in workers’ share of income in the United States: 1) China, 2) robots, 3) monopolies, and 4) landlords. He also suggests a theory that unifies competing explanations into a grand framework – big, capital-intensive multinational corporations are best positioned to take advantage of globalization and new technology, and they have been gaining market power as a consequence. (BloombergView)
A divided workplace
Businesses today’s are increasingly divided between a core of full-time highly skilled employees and contractors who provide non-core services – a phenomenon dubbed “workplace fissure”. Research suggests this shift may partially explain growing wage inequality in recent decades. Yet, surveys show that some contract workers are satisfied and make more money on an hourly basis. While a fissured workplace can more efficiently match workers with demand for labor, it may also intensify social polarization and depress economic mobility. (Quartz)
Is the gig economy a man’s world?
In the gig world, males outnumber females by roughly two to one, according to a survey of workers in the UK. What’s more, this imbalance is broad – not just found in traditionally male-dominated sectors, such as delivery and taxi services. These findings should be taken with a pinch of salt given the survey’s relatively small sample size. Still, they provide food for thought on the gender patterns in this small, but rapidly growing part of the labor market. (FT)
Do prospective college students know enough about the labor market?
When it comes to selecting a major, students may not know much about how different academic paths will affect their future career opportunities – and that makes it hard for them to choose wisely. A recent study found that less than 40% of California community college students were able to rank majors accurately in terms of job and income prospects. That means many students are in the dark about how well their major will prepare them for the world of work. (MarketWatch)
Compared with Europe, American middle class is richer but smaller (and shrinking)
A new study from the Pew Research Center comparing the United States and 11 advanced European economies found the US was the only one where less than 60% of adults were in the middle class in 2010. The 59% of Americans occupying the middle of the economic ladder was down from 62% in 1991. The shares of Americans who were lower or upper income was also greater. These numbers illustrate the higher level of inequality in the US, where income distribution is more hollowed out compared with much of Europe. (NYT)