May 8, 2021

"[A]ll the job gains in April went to men. The number of women employed or looking for work fell by 64,000...."

I see, reading several paragraphs into "It’s not a ‘labor shortage.’ It’s a great reassessment of work in America. Hiring was much weaker than expected in April. Wall Street thinks it’s a blip, but there could be much deeper rethinking of what jobs are needed and what workers want to do on a daily basis" (WaPo).

The author of the analysis, Heather Long, presumes the difference is attributable to "child-care issues." But that goes counter to the notion that we've got "a great reassessment of work." Maybe the idea is that if we get the schools open and functioning once again as our childcare centers, then the difference between men and women will go away, and we'll be left with a gender-neutral problem — the great reassessment of work. 

But what is the great reassessment of work?

The coronavirus outbreak has had a dramatic psychological effect on workers, and people are reassessing what they want to do and how they want to work, whether in an office, at home or some hybrid combination.

A Pew Research Center survey this year found that 66 percent of the unemployed had “seriously considered” changing their field of work, a far greater percentage than during the Great Recession. People who used to work in restaurants or travel are finding higher-paying jobs in warehouses or real estate, for example. Or they want to a job that is more stable and less likely to be exposed to the coronavirus — or any other deadly virus down the road. Consider that grocery stores shed over 49,000 workers in April and nursing care facilities lost nearly 20,000.

Economists describe this phenomenon as reallocation friction, the idea that the types of jobs in the economy are changing and workers are taking awhile to figure out what new jobs they want — or what skills they need for different roles.... In some cases, the problem is a mismatch in skills....

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