Stumble-Through Jobs Market

Data Problems
Permanent Losses
Job Openings
Sticky Problems
Wargaming with Uncle Doug
You Need to Have a Plan B, C, D, and…
A World I Don’t Recognize

Work has always been a fact of life. Paycheck-producing jobs are actually a recent development. Until the Industrial Revolution, most people lived on subsistence agriculture, sustaining themselves with whatever they could produce or working as slaves/serfs.

The practice of producing something you wouldn’t personally use had been around but reached a new stage with the Industrial Revolution. It wasn’t without controversy, either. Karl Marx had major issues with it.

But now we are at the other extreme. Most of us work for some form of paycheck, even the self-employed. Few subsist on their own efforts. The resulting division of labor created a complex yet highly efficient economy that has delivered more prosperity to more people than Marx thought possible. But we still need jobs, and they are growing scarcer.

The same division of labor that enables so much prosperity also prevents most people from living without a job. Even retirees, politicians, and welfare recipients live off someone’s labor, if not their own. Savings, if you have any, are the result of past labor. That makes a job shortage problematic for everyone, not just the jobless.

The June US employment report showed some welcome improvement. Businesses brought back many workers as parts of the country reopened. That’s great but it was only a start. We need several more months like that one and it’s not at all clear they are coming.

Today we’ll look at the data, including some non-government sources. As you will see, millions of workers will stumble through this period, and they may be the lucky ones.