The Workweek: A Round-Up of Labor Market Links for the Week Ending 6/9/17

This week’s labor market news on gig economy, e-commerce jobs, the middle class and more.

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:

Jobs Are Being Gentrified Too

Despite all the talk of futuristic jobs for Millennials, young people are also taking “old-timey jobs” such as butchers, barbers and bartenders, which have become cool with the hipster crowd. Particularly in the cases of bartenders and barbers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects these jobs to grow faster than average over the next several years.  Although historically these sorts of jobs have not required college degrees, they are now attracting the college-educated who are transforming the roles and adding “an element of performance.” It’s akin to the gentrification of neighborhoods: As hipster Millennials move into these jobs, other workers are at risk of getting pushed out. This is a concern for the 60% of 25-29 year old workers who don’t hold a bachelor’s degree. [WSJ]

The Labor Market is Tightening for Entry-Level Jobs, the Fed Says

Tight labor market conditions are spreading to the benefit of those just beginning to look for work, the Federal Reserve reports. Recent editions of its Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District, commonly known as the Beige Book, have cited the challenges employers face finding workers, particularly to fill technical and skilled roles. In the latest Beige Book, released May 31, the Fed added an exciting additional phrase: “increasingly in entry-level positions.”  This is tough on firms trying to fill jobs, but it’s great news for workers, especially those looking for their first job. And it just may be the final piece of economic recovery puzzle we’ve been waiting for.  [Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta]

Is the Long Wait for Wage Growth Nearly Over?

The tight US labor market described above is creating plenty of jobs, but wages are stuck in second gear and convincing signs of faster wage growth remain elusive.  Tight labor markets are supposed to put substantial pressures on wages, according to economic theory. And higher wages in turn should attract more people into the job market, where participation—the percentage of the working-age population in the labor force—has been puzzlingly low. One theory is that wage growth and labor force participation have simply been laggards until now and we’re finally poised to see them catch up. Stay tuned.  [BloombergView]

Looking Back Won’t Move the Economy Forward, Bernanke Says

Nostalgia for the economy of the 1950s and 60s, when the US was the world’s dominant manufacturing power, is pointless because that era can’t be brought back no matter what policies are implemented, according to former Fed chair Ben Bernanke. In a wide-ranging interview with Washington Post reporter Jim Tankersley, Bernanke said his prescription for economic growth in the medium term is a focused infrastructure program, which was also emphasized in a recent IGM Forum survey. Bernanke argued that “so far, technological change has operated as it always has,” with new job opportunities arising as old ones disappear. However, he did leave open the possibility that the impact of technology could be different in the future, particularly with the arrival of artificial intelligence.  [Vox]

Is Coal Really on a Roll?

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt claimed this week that almost 50,000 jobs have been added in the coal sector since last year. Analysts quickly noted that the entire industry has a total of only about 50,000 jobs. In a Politifact fact check, Jed Kolko, Indeed’s chief economist, explained that calculating coal jobs is tricky because industries related to coal, like support activities for mining, may combine coal with oil and gas. To get an increase of about 50,000, Pruitt most likely was looking at the data for the entire mining industry, the Washington Post reported. However, most of the gains in mining jobs had nothing to do with coal, but instead were for oil and gas.  At most, coal-related jobs grew by about 5,000. [Washington Post]