A Momentous Shift Is Taking Shape in the Labor Market
Comment of the Day

September 10 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Momentous Shift Is Taking Shape in the Labor Market

This article by John Authers from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

For the third month in a row, wages for the low-skilled have risen faster than for the high-skilled. In the previous history of the survey, which now goes back almost 25 years, this had only ever happened in two months, in early 2010. Wage growth for the low-skilled is also exceeding that for the high-skilled by the most on record. 

In terms of the momentous macroeconomic issues of the moment, this is good for growth, as poorer people are more likely to spend their pay rises than richer people. It’s also potentially bad for inflation. Wage growth for the lowest skilled is the fastest since August 2008 (not coincidentally, the month before the Lehman bankruptcy), and that could easily lead to higher prices. 

More interestingly still, it does suggest a shift in the balance of power between labor and capital. This isn’t as yet a deep-seated or well-established trend, of course. But if it continues it could rattle a lot of assumptions, and alleviate a lot of social tension.

Eoin Treacy's view

There has been a great deal of talk about the increasing shift between labour and capital or, perhaps more prosaically, power of the people relative to capitalists. The role of technology and globalisation in suppressing wages is much less discussed because it is does not fit with the inconvenient narrative of the oppressed masses.

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