Employment Policy Conversation Starter: Facebook Co-Founder’s Concern About “Winner-Take-All Economy” and Role of Government in Correcting

Even during this current period of low unemployment and decent economic growth, a huge portion of the population is being left behind. Nearly half of all wage earners today bring in less than $30,000 a year. Last week, the Federal Reserve reported that four in ten Americans don’t have $400 to handle an emergency expense, and 25% of non-retired adults have absolutely no savings or pension to lean on once they stop working. Paying for just the basics, such as rent and medical care, is enormously stressful for many millions—even if they’re employed.

Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes has a $2.5 trillion plan to lift up the working class. Hughes, who made waves with his call to break up Facebook, helps lead the Economic Security Project, which is building support for boosting tax credits for working people.

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Robots Will Take Jobs From Men, The Young and Minorities

warehouse robots image

THERE’S NO DOUBT technology is shaking up the American workplace. Amazon employs more than 100,000 robots in its US warehouses, alongside more than 125,000 human workers. Sears and Brookstone, icons of brick and mortar retailing, are both bankrupt. But as machines and software get ever smarter, how many more workers will they displace, and which ones?

Economists who study employment have pushed back against recent predictions by Silicon Valley soothsayers like Elon Musk of an imminent tidal wave of algorithmic unemployment. The evidence indicates US workers will instead be lapped by the gentler swells of a gradual revolution in which jobs are transformed piecemeal as machines grow more capable. Now a new study predicts that young, Hispanic, and black workers will be most affected by that creeping disruption. Men will suffer more changes to their work than women.

The analysis from the Brookings Institution suggests that just as the dividends of recent economic growth have been distributed unevenly, so too will the disruptive effects of automation. In both cases, nonwhite, less economically secure workers lose out. full article

The Gender Wage Gap Is Worse Than We Thought

New research shows that the reality of today’s wage gap is more complicated than the figure often bandied about in Washington—“80 cents to a man’s dollar.” In fact, the gap might actually be much worse, yet much simpler to fix, than we assume.

According to a new analysis of historical wage data by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), the oft-cited 20 percent gap, which focuses on short-term earnings, misses the context of women’s lives. When mapped over 15-year periods, the long-term gender earnings gap might widen to as much as 50 percent.

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