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And as I look at the conversation, it strikes me that it's focused on exactly the right topic, and at the same time, it's missing the point entirely. The topic that it's focused on, the question is whether or not all these digital technologies are affecting people's ability to earn a living, or, to say it a little bit different way, are the droids taking our jobs?
And there's some evidence that they are. The Great Recession ended when American GDP resumed its kind of slow, steady march upward, and some other economic indicators also started to rebound, and they got kind of healthy kind of quickly.
Corporate profits are quite high; in fact, if you include bank profits, they're higher than they've ever been. And business investment in gear — in equipment and hardware and software — is at an all-time high. So the businesses are getting out their checkbooks. What they're not really doing is hiring.
So this red line is the employment-to-population ratio, in other words, the percentage of working-age people in America who have work. And we see that it cratered during the Great Recession, and it hasn't started to bounce back at all.
But the story is not just a recession story. The decade that we've just been through had relatively anemic job growth all throughout, especially when we compare it to other decades, and the s are the only time we have on record where there were fewer people working at the end of the decade than at the beginning.
This is not what you want to see.
When you graph the number of potential employees versus the number of jobs in the country, you see the gap gets bigger and bigger over time, and then, during the Great Recession, it opened up in a huge way. I did some quick calculations. I took the last 20 years of GDP growth and the last 20 years of labor-productivity growth and used those in a fairly straightforward way to try to project how many jobs the economy was going to need to keep growing, and this is the line that I came up with.
Is that good or bad? This is the government's projection for the working-age population going forward. So if these predictions are accurate, that gap is not going to close. The problem is, I don't think these projections are accurate.
In particular, I think my projection is way too optimistic, because when I did it, I was assuming that the future was kind of going to look like the past, with labor productivity growth, and that's actually not what I believe. Because when I look around, I think that we ain't seen nothing yet when it comes to technology's impact on the labor force.A financial aid planner helps parents get the lowest possible price for their child's college education, thus saving them money.
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