Labor Force

Are you afraid of unemployment or are you sure you are forever employable? As the economic outlook becomes increasingly uncertain, many people would put themselves in the first category but would certainly like to be in the second. Our guest today is Jeff Gothelf, author...

We are re-imagining everything else, so maybe we need to imagine the office as well. The physical office we are familiar with has its roots in designs first imagined a hundred years ago, with a bit of a Dilbert-style reboot thrown in during the 1950s....

It may have been a bit of a struggle to make it work, but the pandemic has forced many companies to keep their teams intact even when they are not under the same roof.  As workers have de-camped to far-flung places, perhaps permanently, we are...

Freelance work something of a controversial workforce trend. To some, it is the dreaded gig economy, those who are forced to work on contracts or driving ride shares because they cannot find that holy grail, the full-time job. To others though, it represents freedom, the ability to...

Maybe we will have a recession, maybe we won't, and anyway by all means use a different word if you prefer.'Slowdown', 'Soft Patch', 'Downturn', any of them will do, and any might describe where the economy will be by next year. If we do hit...

An hour to answer questions about the future of work - what could be better? I really enjoyed the hour I spent on CBC Radio earlier this week, supposedly talking about a re-think of the five-day work week but in fact covering all kinds of...

When I speak to employer groups about the future of work, they are often keen to know what they should do to both attract and hold on to workers. In tight markets, that often means attract anyone, anyone at all, they are not fussy. Still,...

The future of work is a huge subject, not one that can really be tackled by in a forty minute period, but we gave it a shot at the Globe and Mail's recent Future Forward conference. I was part of a panel that touched on...

Industrial revolutions are always kind of scary, at least for those who have to make a living. The idea that some crazy new technology can do your job, and maybe do it better..well who can blame the Luddites of the 19th century who took hammers...

The 'nine-nine-six culture' (working nine to nine, six days a week) is something close to the norm for Chinese tech workers who are supposed to embrace it with no complaints. Now, some are pushing back on it, and employers are not thrilled (and are not...

I actually am a fan of the hashtag gigeconomy..in many ways it is a better way to get work done and for some workers it offers a ton of flexibility, or is at least an alternative to the traditional model of work. That said, not...

Work Is Not a Place (the new book) is officially out on December 9th which is exciting..has been a long process (but a fun one too. Some days.). In the meantime, I have been out talking about the subject of it, which is basically the...

Coworking spaces are springing up everywhere and attracting businesses of all sizes. That is good for everything from the bottom line of large companies to the lonliness epidemic, which is actually something with economic implications. See my Globe and Mail column on the trend here    ...

There are a lot of things robots can do, but they cannot make societies any younger. Canada and the U.S. are aging – there is little debate about that. What exactly that will mean for the labor force and the economy is a bit more up...

If I had to think of an industry prone to poisonous industrial relations battles I would probably think first or the auto sector, or maybe even something like education or health. The battles in those industries, however, are apparently being matched by orchestras (can I...

Collaboration, sharing ideas, boosting creativity, creating bonds – all of these are reasons that are typically given for having open plan workspaces. Sit next to your colleagues in an open plan office or cubicle, goes the reasoning, and productivity will rise. Not so, says new...

Maybe I’m late to the party, but it was only recently that I heard the phrase ‘side hustle’. Apparently it has been around a while: way back in 2013, Entrepreneur.com tacked up an online definition, calling ‘a way to make some extra cash that allows...

Robots, joined by Gig Workers, are now making Twinkies, and they are doing such a good job that their parent company is going public.  That’s a powerful statement about today’s manufacturing and economy, never mind our nutritional preferences. Twinkies, those flaky, cream-filled snack cakes that are...

Amongst the problems with the Sharing Economy – and its offshoot, the Gig Economy – is the fact that shares in it tend to be pretty unequal. In fact, even more than is the case of a usual employee-employer relationship, oftentimes the ‘employee’ in this...

Goodness knows, there is nothing better for the economy that productive workers. After all, an economy grows through having people working, and by having their hours at work be efficient. That can come through having them use the right equipment, or just by having them...

Like it or not, the sharing economy is everywhere. I’ll go as far as saying it will be one of the big economic stories of 2016, although its influence will extend far longer than that. It’s a different way to do business, and it works...

I admit, I have watched television shows set in law firms for a long time now. When I was young and impressionable, I watched the excitement on L.A. Law and was intrigued enough to eventually take the Law School Admissions Test (I did get accepted...

How can a city with a unemployment rate of 19 percent scoff at any industry, especially one that accounts for 15 percent of its GDP? That was my first thought when I heard that the city of Barcelona is actively pursuing a strategy to keep...

Was it all big one fun, Technicolor roller-coaster ride never to repeated? The economic growth of the past fifty years was awesome, at least in a historical context. Question is, was it a one-time-only, and are we destined to go back to the sluggish economic...

How would you like free college tuition for you and for your kids? It would really take the pressure off, right? Of course you’d take it if offered – but what if there was a catch, the catch being really high taxes forever? That’s the...

Here is the good news for U.S. restaurants: it costs less to fill those SUVs and minivans these days, so some of the saved money is going to be spent eating out. (Blooming Onions for everyone!). The bad news? That windfall to restaurants is not...

Everybody has their favorite so called-called ‘bellwether’ company, the one that tells you where the economy is going if you scan its fortunes. A lot of people like Federal Express, since tracking shipments tells you a lot about the level of activity. Another favorite is...

Advertising, television, media – they sound like cool places to work right? What with Mad Men like a giant commercial for the glamorous industry of advertising, I imagine more people than ever are lusting after careers writing copy and crafting campaigns. Maybe though, their better...

I never thought I would admire Mallory Keaton, but I really do. Okay, the person I admire is actress Justine Bateman, not Mallory Keaton, the ditzy teenager she played on television show Family Ties (it ran from 1982 through 1989). For those of us who grew...

Freelancing, the best thing ever to happen to the workplace or an evil idea designed to make workers poor and companies inefficient? We are not even close to a consensus on that, but apparently we are getting closer. According to one new study, 41 percent...

Is being a ‘solopreneur’ – someone who basically runs their own shop –a good thing or a bad thing for the economy? We had better figure it out, because apparently the number of them (us actually, I am one as well) are increasing a phenomenal...

Call them shallow if you will, but when scouting for men women generally prefer those with jobs. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, fully 78 percent of never-married women say that finding someone with a steady job would be ‘very important’ to...

Can’t you just hear executives around the world gnashing their teeth? Now that Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has an approved a ‘take as much vacation as you want’ policy, there is going to be pressure for other companies to offer them as well. Question...

Here’s a a dry news headline that buried in the back pages of business sections yesterday but deserves a closer look: according to debt-ratings service Moody’s, the 25 largest U.S. public pensions face about $2 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Translation: unless something changes, retiring U.S....

I had no complaints, really, the last time I called a plumber. The nice lady on the phone (Lorraine) was efficient, she gave me a four hour window and sent out a cheerful plumber (Brent). He fixed the pipes under my sink then gave me...

‘Work is Not a Place’ is one of my favorite catch-phrases these days. I use it to talk about how people can work anywhere, why telecommuting makes sense, why commercial construction may be affected by a trend towards working away from offices. I believe it...

It is a reality, and it is not fair: if you leave the workforce for a period of time, even for a good reason, your career can suffer for decades to come. Women have known that for a long time though the ‘motherhood penalty’ on...

It is not the first time, and it probably will not be the last, but International Monetary Fund (IMF) President Christine Lagarde is urging women to enter the Japanese labor force and at least buffer the effect of a rapidly aging society on the economy....

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is out with their new Employment Outlook and – as these things go – it is a fairly upbeat piece in that they do see the big picture improving, particularly in countries like Canada. Beyond the big...

Well, it is not a popular position in the media these days, but yes I am in favour of the Temporary Foreign Workers program. Read my reasons - and they have everything to do with labour supply and keeping the economy functioning - in this...

The news on U.S. personal incomes over the past decade or so has been pretty dismal, and following the recession it has been especially dismal. The one bright spot, however, has been for women who as a gender have somehow managed to move ahead even...

Well, its jobs week in the U.S. so let's take a look at a stat that sometimes gets overlooked: the harshly-named 'Job Losers Not on Layoff as a Percent of Total Unemployed'...

Not quite the end of the year, but still a good time to take stock of where the jobs were in 2012. See my post on the Globe and Mail's Economy Lab here...

Just took a look at today's release on employment data from Statistics Canada and was underwhelmed by the data.  Looks like Canadian employment is rising, but not really rising all that fast.
Here's an interesting item from on a possible softening of China's one-child policy.  Faster population in China will not necessarily be the salvation of that economy, and faster economic growth from China will not necessarily be the salvation of the world economy - but it would at least be a start.

I like offbeat economic indicators - the number of boats or RVs sold, what colors are in the crayon box, etc. etc. A lot of time they tell you what is going on just as well as some of the stuffier stuff  (y'know, GDP and all that)  that we all track every day.  So I was glad to see the U.S. Census Bureau release their survey of 'movers' - people shifting households.

Oh the labor shortage thing: it get dredged up every so often, and not without cause. We all know the theory behind it, more or less. The boomers are aging, and they are going ot exit the labor force. The generation coming up behind them was not nearly as plentiful in numbers, so they won't really be replaced. So, as long as the economy keeps growing and nothing major (immigration, labor force paritcipation rates etc.) changes, then there will be lots of unfilled jobs out there.