Credit: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
US stock indexes rose to record highs this week, as optimism spreads across the economy. Despite increasingly strong demand for labor, the pace of job growth is lagging. It goes beyond new jobs going unfilled. More Americans quit their job in May than in any other month on record. Why now?
One theory holds that lower wage workers are better off not working so long as they’re receiving enhanced unemployment benefits. Fair enough, but what about white-collar “professional and business services” workers, who made up the highest proportion of that record exodus in May? Millennial burnout? Record high savings? This theory is starting to feel flimsy.
A more persuasive case, made by Derek Thompson in the Atlantic, starts with the contention that quitting, in general, has an undeserved bad rap—it connotes “pessimism, laziness, lack of confidence” when in fact it signals the exact opposite, “an optimism among workers about the future; an eagerness to do something new; and a confidence that if they jump ship, they won’t drown but rather just land on a better, richer boat.” This theory aligns the labor market with every other economic index.
One consequence of a strong labor market is rising productivity, which lo and behold is rising at its fastest rate in over 20 years. Rising productivity translates into increased output from fewer (usually better paid) employees, benefiting both employee and employer, and is a feature of all recent periods of economic prosperity. Indeed, as businesses introduce new forms of automation, they will find that it is important to guide your customers through the new automated experience. Our suggestion: signs.
Credit: The Loop
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