Saturday, March 23, 2024

Americans Don’t Care as Much About Work. And It Isn’t Just Gen Z: Blame it largely on the pandemic, which weakened the hold the workplace held on people’s psyches; Is the Favorable Era for Workers Coming to an End? And other C-Virus related stories

R. Kikuo Johnson
Americans Don’t Care as Much About Work. And It Isn’t Just Gen Z.
Blame it largely on the pandemic, which weakened the hold the workplace held on people’s psyches
By outward appearances, the labor market today looks much as it did before the pandemic. The unemployment rate is just as low, the share of adults in the labor force is just as high, and wages are growing at roughly the same pace after inflation.
But beneath the surface, the nature of labor has changed profoundly. Career and work aren’t nearly as central to the lives of Americans. They want more time for their families and themselves, and more flexibility about when, where and how they work.
The impact of this change can already be seen in both individual companies and the broader economy. It has led to a persistent shortage of workers, especially in jobs that seem less desirable because, for example, they require in-person work or fixed hours. That, in turn, has altered the bargaining position of employers and employees—forcing employers to adapt, not just by paying more but giving priority to quality of life in job offers.
To be sure, some of these changes arise from an exceptionally tight labor market. If unemployment rises, some of employees’ newfound leverage may evaporate.
But some will endure. Historically, the fruits of economic growth are split between capital and labor, with labor taking some of its share in the form of amenities: less hours, more benefits, safer, more-pleasant work conditions. Those amenities are increasingly central to the labor market of today, in what employees expect and what employers must offer.
The pandemic’s impact
Like the wars that previous generations lived through, the pandemic was a milestone in the evolution of the workplace, shaping both the lives and livelihoods of today’s generation.
First, Covid-19 affected the ability of millions to work, by killing or sickening them or forcing them out of the labor force to avoid the virus or care for family members. Second, it shifted tens of millions of workers from physical to virtual workplaces. Some felt free, and loved it; some felt isolated, and hated it. Some felt both. Either way, the effect was to weaken the hold jobs held on their psyches.
In 2017, 24% of respondents to a Pew survey said their job or occupation was very important to their identity. In 2021, just 17% did. Later surveys corroborate this finding.
It isn’t that people hate their jobs or bosses; overall job satisfaction remains pretty high. It is just that other things are more important, which manifests itself in a number of ways. Workers have become more willing to take vacation days they are owed, a sick day when they are sick, a mental-health day when they are stressed, and all the parental leave their (increasingly accommodating) employers offer. --->READ MORE HERE (or HERE)
Is the Favorable Era for Workers Coming to an End?
Are we in a new golden age for employees—or is it a pandemic-inflated bubble that is starting to deflate?
The case is far from clear. Those who argue for the golden age cite the decades-low unemployment rate, abundant job openings, rising wages and ability of many employees to bargain for perks, such as working from home or longer family leave.
But others say this era already is starting to wane, as more employers want workers back in the office, dozens of major companies have announced substantial layoffs and many people have spent the Covid-era savings that allowed them to be choosy about jobs.
What to believe? The Wall Street Journal asked two economists to weigh in: Harvard University economics professor Richard Freeman, who is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and Harry Holzer, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University and a former chief economist for the Labor Department.
Below are edited excerpts from our conversation, which took place online. --->READ MORE HERE (or HERE)
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

‘Polio Paul’ Alexander’s sad final days revealed as he battled COVID inside iron lung — before death at 78

COVID-19 vaccines: CDC says people ages 65 and up should get a shot this spring – a geriatrician explains why it’s vitally important

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

If you like what you see, please "Like" and/or Follow us on FACEBOOK here, GETTR here, and TWITTER here.

No comments: