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Over the past decade, the nature of employment has changed more than many realize. Many of us are working from home. Many of us choose assignments on our own terms and work for ourselves. Many of us negotiate these arrangements ourselves with our employers.
Overall, this is a good thing and a result of people being able to better balance work and personal life. People are increasingly pursuing the types of jobs they ideally want. These changes have been driven in part by new technologies.
In the past, business travel was a major part of many white-collar jobs, as even making a long-distance call was prohibitively expensive and there was no substitute for a physical face-to-face meeting. Now, with just a few clicks on his device or computer, he can video chat with as many people as he wants, whether he’s near, far, or on another continent.
The culture has also changed. Workers are now demanding these new arrangements more aggressively. Two years of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns have triggered change. People who had never worked remotely before the pandemic were suddenly forced to do so. In many cases, they and their managers felt it was as good as having an office, or at least viable enough. Some never return. A Pew Research Center poll earlier this year found that just 7% of employees worked remotely before the pandemic, but about a third of them now. Hybrid arrangements are also possible.
This change is for the better for most workers. For most of the workforce, moving away from traditional work arrangements does not mean moving away from work itself. The official unemployment rate is hovering around 3.5%, the lowest in US history. wages are rising Labor Department statistics show a 4.4% increase last year.
This increase was not the result of a minimum wage hike. The number is steadily increasing due to intensifying competition for workers. Even with the unemployment rate at 3.5%, employers still claim they are struggling to fill positions and are under obligation to offer more wages and benefits.
Most recently proposed legislation, such as the Biden administration’s efforts to crack down on the so-called “misclassification of workers,” seeks to limit these newfound freedoms. The allegedly misclassified workers are most often those who choose to work as freelancers for so-called “gig economy” companies. This is inconvenient for industry, unions and regulators who oversaw the old system where people were employed by a single employer for set hours. Instead of adapting to change, the old security guards are doubling down and wanting workers to operate under old and inadequate rules and regulations.
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Labor disputes still remain, mainly because trade unions see this as an opportunity to make more efforts. With the demand for workers so tight, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters calculated that UPS would yield to their demands. Teamster’s decision was correct. Auto workers are putting similar pressure on automakers.
People are increasingly pursuing the types of jobs they ideally want. These changes have been driven in part by new technologies.
As of late August, Hollywood actors and screenwriters are going on strike because the transition from traditional broadcasters and home video stations to subscriber-based streaming services isn’t profitable for them.
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TV seasons are often very short, with many series having 10 episodes per season instead of 20 or more, so many series have short production times. They would eventually reach a new deal with the studio. But at some point, both writers and actors will have to accept that times have changed. Love it or hate it, we all have to adapt.
That said, most of the changes in the nature of work over the past decade have benefited individual workers. For example, the Center for Economic Policy Research estimates that from 2021 onwards, the shift to working from home will give the average working American at least 55 minutes more free time per week, just by eliminating the need to commute. . It’s another hour to spend with family or do other things you love. That’s something worth celebrating on Labor Day this year.