Category Archives: labour force

4/10/20: Technological Deepening Is Coming for Our Jobs


In my recent article for The Currency (link here:, I argued that COVID19 will act as an accelerator of technological capital deepening in the modern economies, with a resulting faster displacement of workers (including highly skilled ones) by technology. 

McKinsey survey of the developing trends in businesses strategic responses to the pandemic confirms my hypothesis:

Per above, across all sectors, and (peer charts below) across specific sectors, businesses are planning to prioritize deployment of technology in addressing long-term change in response to the current pandemic. 

McKinsey state that "Fifty-five percent of leaders anticipate that at least half of their organization’s workforce will be fully or partially remote postcrisis. While the expectations vary widely by industry—from 69 percent predicting this level of remote work in technology, telecommunications, and media to 43 percent in advanced industries—even in the industries where manufacturing, patient care, and sales transactions often require people at offices, stores, plants, and other company facilities, a significant portion of the workforce may be partially or fully remote." Source: And "Our survey results show that executives are focused on three courses of action ... making good decisions more quickly, improving communication and collaboration, and making greater use of technology."

6/5/20: H1B Visas and Local Wages: Undercutting Human Capital Returns

The Economic Policy Institute published an interesting piece of research on the links between H1B visas and lower wages paid by the U.S. employers for key skills: As far as I can see, the report does not cover academic faculty employment, but it does cover data from universities and other non-profits.

The report is worth reading.

5/5/20: A V-Shaped Recovery? Ireland post-Covid

My article for The Currency on the post-Covid19 recovery and labour markets lessons from the pst recessions:

Key takeaways:
"Trends in employment recovery post-major recessions are worrying and point to long-term damage to the life-cycle income of those currently entering the workforce, those experiencing cyclical (as opposed to pandemic-related) unemployment risks, as well as those who are entering the peak of their earnings growth. This means a range of three generations of younger workers are being adversely and permanently impacted.

"All of the millennials, the older sub-cohorts of the GenZ, and the lower-to-middle classes of the GenX are all in trouble. Older millennials and the entire GenX are also likely to face permanently lower pensions savings, especially since both cohorts have now been hit with two systemic crises, the 2008-2014 Great Recession and the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

"These generations are the core of modern Ireland’s population pyramid, and their fates represent the likely direction of our society’s and economy’s evolution in decades to come."

30/11/18: Ireland’s Dependency Ratio Problem?

Ireland seems to have a twin dependency. or rather a triple dependency problem:

  • Younger population means larger share of population is either below the working age or in education;
  • Older population largely working less in their post-retirement age due to a number of factors, such as family/household work (‘grandparents duties’ in absence of functional childcare and early education systems), and tax effects (low thresholds for the upper marginal tax rate application act as disincentive to supply surplus labor over and above retirement income), plus the workplace practices and regulations that restrict post-retirement age work; and
  • Working-age adults in large numbers drawing various forms of allowances (labor force participation rate being low for Ireland despite a relatively benign unemployment statistics).

All of which means that the aggregate (and very broad) dependency ratio for Ireland is yet to recover from the decade-old crisis, and is below that for other small, open economies, for example, Iceland:

The latter observation was true before the crisis, but the onset of the GFC and the Great Recession have pushed Ireland’s employment to population ratio to such dire lows that the country is yet to recover from its woes. Iceland recovered its pre-crisis levels of employment to population ratio back in 2016. It also endured much less pronounced impact of the crisis in terms of ratio decline (peak to trough) and duration of the peak-to-peak cycle. Ireland is still climbing out of the mess, and the rate of recovery is expected to slow down dramatically in 2018 (based on the IMF data).

While many observers and analysts are quick to discount this ratio, the reality is that economy’s resilience to shocks, its productive capacity today (and, via on-the-job training, learning by doing and other forms of career-linked investments in productivity growth, its future capacity) are determined by how many people work in the economy per capita of population. The lower the ratio, the less income producing capacity the economy has, the lower the absorption capacity of the economy in the face of adverse shocks.