The Labor Market: 2. Permanent Unemployment

In the last post I showed that the market for unskilled, unregulated labor is perfectly competitive. The econ-speak definition of that is “a market in which profit is maximized when price equals marginal cost.” And in the case of laborers: Profit Maximization = working at all, instead of starving Marginal Cost = subsistence We also said that… Continue reading The Labor Market: 2. Permanent Unemployment

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Unemployment Business Cycle, The Labor Market: 1. Basics

It is often said that “perfect competition” doesn’t actually happen in the real world, that it is merely a theoretical ideal used to illustrate points in Econ texts. The goods commonly cited as examples of perfect competition — agricultural goods such as wheat, corn, soybeans, etc. — are often provided with public support in the… Continue reading Unemployment Business Cycle, The Labor Market: 1. Basics

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what is a job, really?

In the argot of politicians, a “job” is a commodity, like a pork belly, or a widget. “We created eleventy-umpteen new jobs on my watch,” says the incumbent to raucous applause — as though they came freshly-stamped out from the line at the Acme Jobs Plant. But what is a job, really? What does it… Continue reading what is a job, really?

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Free Trade and Jobs

“Free Trade” is blamed for all kinds of bad things, these days. There is a notion out there that the Free Market cannot be trusted, that left unfettered, it will enable Greedy Corporate Capitalists to plunder and exploit workers everywhere. That’s a very tempting bandwagon to jump on, because the One Percent do seem to… Continue reading Free Trade and Jobs

Who Has Time Anymore?

My wife makes some of her living monitoring online discussions. One of the ongoing conversations there is about how women’s contradictory conundrums have changed — how today’s overwhelmed-ness compares with yesterday’s ennui. Staying at home, one feels the pangs of unexplored career, of unmade creative contributions… Working at a career, one sees the kids for… Continue reading Who Has Time Anymore?

These Kids Today

In the fiscal year that ended in June, 52,193 undocumented minors were caught crossing the United States’s southern border. That is twice as many as the previous year. Many of these children were unaccompanied. The vast majority are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, into which drug gangs and violence have spread from Mexico. There… Continue reading These Kids Today

Small Business: Rhetoric and Reality

One thing that nobody disagreed about in the 2012 campaign was that small business is good, and needs help. There was great disagreement, of course, about how best to give it that help. But nobody is against small business! It provides most of America’s jobs, and it exemplifies the very best of America’s can-do spirit,… Continue reading Small Business: Rhetoric and Reality

Is New Technology Destroying Jobs?

On the NewsHour Friday night, in response to the dismal new jobs numbers, Andrew McAfee of the MIT Center for Digital Business blames the loss on “powerful” new labor-saving technology. But if he’s right, is it the technology itself, or the large corporations that install it? The claim that new technology destroys jobs is at least as old as… Continue reading Is New Technology Destroying Jobs?