Finally got round to reading @AdamPosen's piece on nostalgia which was an excellent read - lots I agreed with and lots I disagreed with…
I agree we shouldn't treat manufacturing jobs with nostalgia & aim to bring them all back - not realistic given automation anyway
It's worth remembering that manufacturing & mining jobs were "bad jobs" before they were "good jobs" - dangerous, dirty, exploitative, badly paid. It's not the actual work we should be nostalgic about, it's the good pay, conditions, & voice at work those workers attained
We need to make today's "bad jobs" (care, online retail, etc) into "good jobs" and there's no reason why it should be impossible IMO. Posen makes this point too although less explicitly, calling for improved labour standards & enforcement across the board.
I disagree with Posen about the economics of place, though. Firstly, this just isn't how most humans are wired, and there's no point wishing it were otherwise because it would be more economically efficient.
Second, in many struggling places, the problem isn't that people don't leave for better opportunities. Many do. But others ARRIVE, drawn by cheap property. See Blackpool, one of the most densely populated places in England outside London.
If you just ignore economic geography & expect struggling places to wither and die with dignity, you will be disappointed.

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More from @sarahoconnor_

25 Apr
I've written about insecurity among the young & how it's changing the way they see the world. "We're drowning in insecurity," says a new grad. “I sometimes have this feeling that we are edging towards a precipice, or falling in it already,” says another.…
Wealth amassed by older generations (see chart above) will of course flow down to younger ones. But that will exacerbate inequality between those with wealthy parents and those without. Young people feel this divide intensely.
Perhaps because of this, I found it fascinating to see how often young people who were doing well attributed their success to luck, rather than purely to their own merit & hard work.
Read 6 tweets
16 Mar
Have you ever heard someone ask this Q about why Brits won't pick fruit and veg?
& I have a story which sheds some light. It's about the experience of some Russians & Belarusians coming to pick UK fruit on a new visa pilot (Thread)…
They expected hard work, long hours, and the minimum wage. But the problem the faced was the opposite of too much work: the ones we spoke to were being deprived of it for not meeting productivity targets.
They were on zero hour contracts, which do not guarantee any work. Here's a clause from one contract we saw.
Read 10 tweets
26 Jan
Are Brits "too lazy" to do the jobs migrant workers do, like fruit picking? Are farmers "too unpatriotic" to hire them? No and no. Let's start by looking at how the job has changed since Brits used to do it. 1/n…
Piece rates are still common, but min wage law means farmers must top up the pay of pickers whose productivity is too low. Supermarkets have exerted relentless pressure on price & quality standards. The result is has been a HUGE intensification of this job.
This paper by @rogaly at Uni of Sussex, written almost a decade ago, picked up on the changes by interviewing farmers…
Read 11 tweets
8 Dec 20
Politicians: cherry-picking the best stats for your speeches doesn't persuade the public all is well, it persuades them they're being lied to… A worked example follows...
Philip Hammond's spring speech 2019 (the last "normal" speech of this kind, I think?) rattles off a string of wonderful stats about the "remarkably robust" economy. All are technically correct. But still...
Fastest wage growth - ok, at that moment, in nominal terms (see chart) but this is hardly the stat that matters most to people, which is real terms wage growth, which had been dire for a decade in 2019 (see chart).
Read 4 tweets
27 Oct 20
Shame on me, given my job, but only since the pandemic have I really started to understand how threadbare the UK's safety net has become. Take statutory sick pay. The UK is now at the very bottom of all OECD countries. Even Trump's America is doing more.
Some examples of other countries, versus the UK…
There's a hard-headed reason to raise sick pay: that otherwise some people won't isolate because they can't afford to (the people reliant only on SSP are disproportionately in jobs that can't be done from home.) Skimping is a false economy.
Read 4 tweets
29 Sep 20
To let unemployment surge under the cover of allowing the economy to adjust naturally to the "new normal" would be intellectually dishonest and economically dangerous. We won't know what jobs are viable post-Covid until we're actually post-Covid.…
Meanwhile there aren't enough new jobs for people to "reallocate" into.
Boris Johnson promised us a New Deal in June, so how about taking a leaf from FDR and creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs? The UK economy clearly needs more care workers, nurses, teachers, teaching assistants & others to cope with the future anyway.…
Read 5 tweets

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