You were born 20, 30, or 35 years ago. How screwed are you?

sharing-economy-hplead-bInteresting piece by Monica Potts here.

In my mid-30s (the mid-80s) I was dead broke with no professional work history (except as an unsuccessful professional revolutionary), but I had the beginnings of a credential, my MA (later Ph.D.) in econ. My GF and future wife had a law degree. We had both gotten our BAs in 1971 when college was cheap. We both had modest student loans. (I had tuition remission and a stipend as a TA.) We never owned a house until we hit 40. The parents had no money to speak of.

I might have liked to be a journalist but in the late 70s I researched jobs that were available, and econ was among them. It helped that I was actually interested in it.

At first in the article I thought, well writing is an increasingly tough business to get into, I feel for you, but you picked it. Ditto for those who enter and stay stuck in the ground floor of non-profits, which can be pretty unforgiving places. Ditto if you choose to live in high-rent cities.

BUT. What the piece raises is the extent to which the labor market more generally reflects greater pay dispersion (including more low-paid jobs) and less mobility. To what extent do entry-level jobs of many types increasingly suck? How much of this is a consequence of living in expensive places to live? Obviously, combined with high college costs and ballooning loan burdens this becomes a pervasive problem. And the Great Recession is the cherry on top of this shit sundae.

This all seems to explain Occupy, and Occupys to come. It’s not clear to me that the proliferation of sharing apps and gigs is cause so much as effect. If there were more jobs with benefits, there would be fewer people subletting their apartments and acting as informal taxi drivers. Nor is housing the great boon to wealth that is suggested. Sure in certain periods it is, others not so much. Sharing is not making people poorer; poorer people have more recourse to sharing.

Over-education combined with under-employment is fuel for the next revolt.


You were born 20, 30, or 35 years ago. How screwed are you? — 1 Comment

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