The Future of Work Arrived Way Too Early

A UPS worker delivers packages along Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, July 9, 2020. (Mike Segar/Reuters)
And policymakers had better respond fast.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE W ith the next stage of stimulus seemingly on life support, it is important to take stock of how important taking more action will be. More than half the people who lost their jobs when the economy shut down are still unemployed. It’s the biggest labor-market policy challenge of our lifetimes.

Before COVID-19’s unfortunate takeover of American public policy, labor economists weren’t terribly in demand. Wages were rising, the unemployment rate was at historic lows, tight labor markets were reducing labor-market disparities, and the Federal Reserve had decided to relax and keep the run going. The longest jobs expansion in history was

Marianne Wanamaker is an associate professor of economics at the University of Tennessee, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a member of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board.

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