There’s no place like home — and the labour market

2022-04-05
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There’s no place like home — and the labour market needs to adjust - Today News Post Today News || UK News

Conventional economic thinking tells us that people go where the jobs are. In Americare facing variants that are more transmissible and potentially more dangerous — and driving what is, there is a long history of westward expansion in search of opportunity. In the UK, Margaret Thatcher’s employment secretary, Norman Tebbit, was fond of telling people about his father who, when unemployed, “got on his bike and looked for work, and he kept looking till he found it.” Clearly, it is easier to find work when you are mobile. But what happens when people can’t or won’t move to where the jobs are?

It is a question that American policymakers are focusing on in the wake of pandemic related job destruction. Covid-19 hit different groups of people in very different ways, with virtual knowledge workers doing far better than those in professions that require face-to-face contact. Statistics pointing to declining income inequality during the pandemic are misleading, say some academics, because they reflect short-term government policy responses, such as handing out stimulus cheques. Longer term, it’s quite clear that the nature of work is going to shift radically, with the possibility of many more jobs being done anywhere — be it Bangalore or Bangor.

This may open up a new globalisation of white collar labour marketsICU occupancy and case rates should be at a point where it, which could benefit workers in emerging markets that are moving ahead digitally, but could also put pressure on labour in richer countries. On the other hand, American workers unable to afford housing, childcare and schooling in expensive coastal cities could move to one of the less expensive “zoomtowns” that have grown during the pandemic.

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It is impossible to know yet how this arbitrage for jobs, place and labour will play out. But what we do know is that place matters a lot more in terms of labour markets than we once thought it did. Economists have traditionally thought in terms of people, not geography. But a more location based approach to job creation is gaining steam.?Research?shows that communities adapt very differently to economic downturns so a variety?of bespoke approaches are needed — rather than just policies designed to create job growth at a national level — to cope.

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