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Episode 2: The Future of Labor

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Transcript for Episode 2: The Future of Labor


STEVEN GREENHOUSE was a reporter for The New York Times for over thirty years, covering labor and the workplace for many of them. He is the author of two books: Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor and The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker.

DAVID AUTOR is the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT and co-chair of its Work of the Future task force. He has written extensively about the dynamics of the labor market. Three papers in particular bear upon his conversation here: The Nature of Work after the Covid Crisis: Too Few Low-Wage Jobs; Work of the Past, Work of the Future, in which he studied the bifurcation of high- and low-skilled jobs in cities; and The China Shock: Learning from Labor Market Adjustment to Large Changes in Trade.


Danielle Mattoon: Welcome to the World As You’ll Know It. A podcast about life after Covid-19. I’m your host Danielle Mattoon. If we think about the pandemic as a giant global re-set, what challenges and possibilities will it bring? That’s the question this show is asking. Each week, we invite an established journalist to host a conversation with an expert in their field about how Covid, and our response to it, will affect the future. This week, we’re talking about the future of labor.

Our host is Steven Greenhouse, former New York Times labor reporter and author of Beaten Down, Worked Up, which traces the history of the labor movement in the United States. Joining him is David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics at MIT and co-chair of its Work of the Future task force.

Over the summer, his group released an extensive study called, “The Nature of Work after the COVID Crisis.” As the name suggests, it’s a deep dive into the effects the pandemic might have on the economy and American jobs.

Prior to the COVID crisis, the U.S. was experiencing the longest economic expansion in its history. Since the crisis, the unemployment rate has soared to the highest level since the Great Depression, and sources project that between 80 and a hundred thousand small businesses will close.

In addition to all this, millions of Americans are now working from home. It’s a radical shift whose effects, David says, could be here to stay. Here’s their conversation.


Steven Greenhouse: Hello, David. Uh, great to see you again, and I'm really looking forward to this conversation with you about so many things that I'm so interested in.

David Autor: Thank you.. I know this will be a fascinating conversation.

Steven Greenhouse: I'm eager to talk to you about the work you and your MIT colleagues have done on the pandemic’s effects on our economy and the labor force, and its potential long term effects. But first, I’d like to go back and ask you to help us understand the state of the US economy and unemployment, you know, before COVID hit. What did things look like and how did we get here?

David Autor: So let me start with January, 2020. We were in a historically tight labor market. Uh, where tight means the unemployment rate was quite quite low. And equally importantly, labor force participation rates were rising. And tight labor markets have many benefits. They tend to put upward wage pressure at the bottom in people doing many of the least well paid jobs in the economy and wages in those jobs tend to rise only when the market is sufficiently tight, that people have to be compensated to keep doing that work as opposed to some better opportunity.

Another benefit of very tight labor markets is employment opportunities, opening to people who otherwise would have trouble getting jobs. So people with criminal backgrounds, people with work limiting disabilities. We were seeing sharp increases in the fraction of them finding jobs. So many many good things were happening, although still it deserves emphasis—the US has a very low wage labor market at the bottom. It is no sense even in, during a boom time in which people doing the types of jobs, we were just discussing have a great deal of economic security, have much upward mobility, have much of a insurance network effectively. But nevertheless, times were relatively good.

Steven Greenhouse: You've written a lot about inequality in America—you describe it as a barbell economy with a disappearing middle class. Basically, folks at the top are doing better and better, but those at the bottom are struggling or treading water. As you and your colleagues put it...despite productivity gains of around 75% since the 1970s, the average American worker saw their wages increased by only 20% since then. There are numerous theories as to what has caused this...how do you think this happened?

David Autor: There's no single answer to that question. I would say there are four really important forces. One of them is educational attainment—the rate of growth of educational attainment in the United States actually slowed in the early 1980s. So the rate at which people were completing college, but the demand was growing for college educated workers. And that led to a lot of rising inequality, just because the wages of the more educated, uh, rose relative to others, that's one force. And that one's not very talked about very often. It's the least sexy of them, but it's quite important.

David Autor: A second force is the direction of technological change, which has increased the value of abstract reasoning of creativity, of expertise, of judgment and devalued a lot of skilled work that people did that followed well understood rules and procedures. So that would be many clerical jobs, phone answering jobs, uh, calculating, accounting, bookkeeping, copying and filing, but also many production jobs, which often involved skilled, repetitive tasks. But increasingly once we understand the rule book for that type of work, it's feasible to encode it in software and have it executed by machines or by computers.

David Autor: A third factor, which became much more important at the turn of the 21st century was trade pressure. China's rise as essentially the world's leading manufacturing country, uh, was a remarkable turn of events because China was basically a backward country in a perpetual state of economic and political chaos, uh, since, Mao Tse Tung. And, uh, it started a long march in the late 1970s to becoming a quasi market economy that was highly efficient, used Western technologies, used the price system, took advantage of China's vast stock of natural resources and relatively well educated, literate labor, and excess labor, hundreds of millions of people underemployed in rural agriculture. And it combined all those ingredients to make, you know, a century worth of progress, in the space of a couple decades.

And because it was such a large economy and is such a large economy that had an enormous impact on countries that compete in the same markets as China that produce the same goods and export them abroad or sell them to themselves. And the U S was one of the countries that was most affected by China's rise. At least a million manufacturing jobs in net were lost in the early 2000s likely more. And those jobs were very geographically concentrated. So a million jobs is not that large in a labor market of 150 million workers, but it's very large if it happens in a few places, if it happens in Hickory, North Carolina, where so many of their furniture manufacturers went out of business, and many of those industries essentially became noncompetitive, and non-viable in the space of about 10 years after China joined the world trade organization.

David Autor: A fourth factor that really deserves emphasis is institutional changes within the United States. The US has been eroding the protections of workers on many levels, uh, since, uh, the very early 1980s when Ronald Reagan became president. So this has included making it much harder for unions to organize workplaces at every level. The federal minimum wage in the United States, which used to be quite high relative to the median, uh, has essentially eroded in real value due to inflation over the course of decades, variously by 30 or 40%. It has never been restored to the levels that we saw in the late 1970s. And then the set of protections from occupational safety and health from employment discrimination law, and so on has really generally been trending downward. So at many, many levels, the floor under which labor operates has just been sinking.

Steven Greenhouse: You've given us a good overview on the state of things before COVID hit. So now I’d like to turn to the recent work you’ve done with your MIT colleagues. And I want to focus on one of the things you just listed. Technological change. For instance, automation and AI. Before the pandemic hit, economists, as well as many Americans, were debating whether technological change would wipe out millions of American jobs. Now that the pandemic has arrived, how do you think it will affect automation and technology in the US? Will it speed it up or will it slow it down?

David Autor: So, there's a great irony here, which is the thing we were all worrying about was, you know, automation taking away all our jobs, and the pandemic has taken away all our jobs and has nothing to do with automation. And so you might say, well, just proves we were worried about the wrong thing. Unfortunately I don't think that's right. I think we were right to have that concern, and right to have that concern going forward. I do think the pandemic will speed the pace of automation in a couple of ways. One is telepresence is a form of automation, and we're doing a whole lot more of that. And we were not going to revert to prior form when this is over. A second, is what economists might call automation forcing, which is that you are put in a situation where labor is scarce, labor is scarce because we're staying home, but you want to get your work done.

David Autor: And so you figure out a way to get machines, to do it for you in a way that you might not have otherwise done. Where do we see this? We see drones being used to measure people's temperatures, to deliver medical supplies. We see robots that disinfect warehouses. We see people doing telemedicine. We see in the meatpacking industry, the meatpacking workers have suffered a great deal during the pandemic because it's close sweaty, germ-intensive work and, uh, workers in that industry have been heavily exposed to COVID. So the meat packing industry is now investing very heavily in robotics. Meat packing is not a natural place for robotics. It requires enormous dexterity to cut meat off bone without either leaving a lot of meat on the bone or putting bone in the meat, neither of which is a good business model, right? If you leave meat on the bone, that's just waste. If you get bone in the meat, that's some very unhappy customers. And so it's a dexterous human activity. It's the kind of thing we do not expect robots to do in general in the very near future. But because of the COVID crisis firms are investing very heavily to accelerate the pace of that technology and move labor out of that activity. And so we will have much more automation in meat processing five years from now than we would have had it not been for the Covid crisis.

Steven Greenhouse: But you know, aren't some people saying, well, you know, the pandemic might help suppress wages because unemployment is so high and this recession and that's hurting business confidence. So might those two factors together, lower wages, decline of business confidence argue against an increase in automation?

David Autor: So some of, of course, the automation is happening right now, right? Because you just can't have high density employment. So yes, when the pandemic let's say, you know, there's a vaccine, we all take it. We can all go back to work, then there's going to be a lot of unemployment. And so there'll be very little wage pressure. Wages will be low and firms will say, yeah, I was going to buy a machine, but now I can just hire two men or women to do this thing. So yes, in the short run, there may be a temporary lull in the pace of automation. But as soon as the labor markets gets tight again, firms will not forget the insights that they had during the pandemic about things they can do with technology and they will use them.

David Autor: And sometimes once you adopt a technology, you don't want to go back. You've made the investment, you've discovered it works and you stick with it. We'll never go back to horses no matter how cheap they get relative to cars, right? We'll never go back to candle lighting even if it gets cheaper than electricity. I think some of these things are just irreversible.

Steven Greenhouse: You mentioned that one type of automation we're seeing is telepresence, and we’re seeing a lot more of it. What effect has this huge increase in telepresence already had on employment and the workforce today? And what will it mean for the future?

David Autor: Absolutely. I think there are, there are really two very important changes that will come about almost immediately. One is the prevalence of distance work will rise dramatically. You know, prior to the crisis, only about 2% of workers worked fully remotely. Businesses are now projecting a tripling or quadrupling of the fraction of all work hours that will be done telepresently. And that's important because it's not going to just affect those workers. It's going to indirectly affect demand for many people who do the service activities that support that type of work.

David Autor: I think just as consequential will be a permanent decline in the prevalence of business travel. Of people crossing continents to go to 90 minute meetings. And that's important, not just because it affects the business travelers and not just because it affects the airline industry, but because it affects the kind of leisure and hospitality sector, which is a very large part of the modern economy. And business travelers drive that sector because they pay top dollar, right? When many of us fly on airplanes, we're if you're flying economy class, as I usually am, you're basically just the ballast in the airplane, right? The real money is up in front in the business class seats where they're paying, you know, eight or 10 times what you're paying, but the business class travelers don't just pay a lot for airlines, right? Then they hire the Ubers and the limos and the taxis.

David Autor: They stay at the high end hotels and pay full fare on weeknights. They go out to restaurants on expense accounts, and then they go have their clothes dry cleaned, and they go to the local sports club and then they buy an expensive suit and some shoes and so on. And there's a whole economy that supports this business travel. And temporarily people can't travel because of the virus risk, but over the long term business people I've spoken with and you see this all over the press have realized, “Hey, we were spending too much on this. That's just not necessary. Many of these meetings can happen pretty effectively, tele presently.” And that means one: a permanent inward reduction in the demand from these high end consumers, right? Business consumers. It also will change major cities, you know, places like New York and Los Angeles, uh, Silicon Valley...

Steven Greenhouse: Can you talk a little more granularly about how cities might be affected, how they might be hurt by this decline of business travel, by this increase in telework and how that might affect workers in the cities?

David Autor: Something, you know, has happened in US cities since the 1980s and even more so since the 1990s, which is that the structure of employment in cities have changed. Cities used to have a kind of, you could sort of think of there being three tiers of work. At the top was kind of professional and technical and managerial work. These are the attorneys, the engineers, the financier's, the product designers, the creative people at the top of organizations. Then you had a second layer of people who are in administrative and support roles, and also production roles who often worked hand in hand with expertise, and they were in the office buildings and the factories producing stuff. Then you had a third layer of people who were doing all the service activities, attending to the care and comfort and convenience of everyone who was there. The food service, the security transportation, and cleaning repair, home health aides.

Over the last four decades. And especially since 1990, that middle stratum of office workers and production workers has really contracted in urban areas. Offices have many fewer support staff than they used to. Production has moved entirely out of cities. And a lot of the middle skilled work has essentially been substituted away by a combination of technology and globalization. And so cities have really bifurcated their employment into the one hand, these high paid professional workers and the other, the stratum of Uber drivers, restaurant workers, hotel cleaners, Et cetera...

Steven Greenhouse: Your, your barbell, so to speak

David Autor: That's right. And so that has created a lot of employment, but a lot of low paid employment. But nevertheless, if you say, well, what has been a big driver of employment growth? If you looked across these premier cities that we're just talking about, it has been the growth of low paid work. And much as one may not be super enthusiastic about low paid work. It's better to have too many low paid jobs than too few, because at least if you have too many, they're competing hard for workers. If you have too few, then workers are competing harder for those jobs. And that tends to drive down wages. We are going to transition in my opinion, into a period of too few low wage jobs. So the decline in the high end business travel and the decline in use of office space in urban areas, I expect will reduce demand for all of the supporting services. David Autor: All, you know, the restaurants, the cleaners, the security guards, the people who tend to hotels, the people who drive Uber, the people who run all the luxury services that support those activities. So, you know, when you go to the office, you drive a small economy. And so when you choose not to do that, you move your demand elsewhere.

Steven Greenhouse: But can't some of these jobs, you know, follow the wealthy? You know, will there be a net loss of jobs or will jobs just relocate to wherever these wealthy folks are?

David Autor: Some jobs will relocate, right? So I expect to see more restaurants in the suburbs, right? More high end restaurants in suburbs if we have fewer in the cities, for example. Some of that will occur, but an equally important thing will occur is that there'll be a change in the nature of what people consume. Right? So it won't just be where they consume it, but also what they consume.

David Autor: If people are working out of their homes, they will not go out to lunch as often. Right? They won't be as dependent on transportation services, they will buy fewer suits and pairs of shoes. Of course, they're going to spend that money. I don't, I don't think it means that an aggregate increase in savings. What will people spend it on? You know, during the pandemic. I mean, if you sell hot tubs, if you're doing renovations or improvements to home offices. Right? These businesses are booming. There are many affluent workers whose jobs have been locationally disrupted, but not otherwise disrupted. They're still getting their paychecks. They're still doing their jobs, and they're not going out to restaurants and they're not going on fancy vacations and they are spending more time at home. And so they’re going to take that spare money and they're going to improve the quality of leisure.

Steven Greenhouse:We've heard about how insanely expensive housing costs have gotten in San Francisco and New York and Boston. So with maybe many people moving out of the cities because there isn't as much need for people to work in central business districts, might rents and housing costs go down and might that in ways, make it more affordable so that, you know, young people who've wanted to move into the city can now move into the city and might there be some, uh, corrective?

David Autor: Yeah, it's a very good question. And I don't for sure know the answer, but I do think it will reduce, you know, commercial real estate prices, it’s going to cause some stores to close, so it could cause rents and housing costs to fall. But why are those rents and housing costs high? Well, it's because there's a lot of good jobs in the area that people want to be near. So if the good jobs that were driving those high rents and high housing costs disappear, it's not clear that declining housing costs fully compensates you for that. But in general, you know, when we've seen demand for cities decline, it's not been good for cities.

David Autor: If what you need for a city is a reduction in demand to lower prices well then Cleveland ought to be doing, you know, fabulously or Gary Indiana. Right? It doesn't tend to work that way. Now others would argue, right, and I hope they're right— they will say, look, cities are just great. They're cultural meccas. People will just want to live in them. It doesn't matter about the quality of jobs. They will continue to be dynamic and in demand because young people love them. I hope that's true. I much more think that good high paying jobs are the dog that wags the tail, and the tail is the amenities and the culture and so on. But if you don't have that kind of fountainhead of employment opportunity, it's hard for the rest of that to operate.

Steven Greenhouse: So we've heard a lot about a key ingredient to innovation is when, you know, smart people work together face to face, trade ideas. But with the trend towards remote work, towards telework, what effect is that having on innovation and on productivity overall?

David Autor: Well, we don't know, but what you're referring to is absolutely correct. You know, it's long been understood, or at least observed, maybe not understood, that innovative activities happen where there's high density of educated, creative people. Big ideas come out of cities. Those are the centers of finance, but also the centers of technological innovation. Also the centers of creative innovation. And, you know, for decades, people have been talking about the death of distance, right? Because we had great telephones. Then we had, you know, mobile phones and then we had the internet. And yet, even as they're talking about the death of distance, people were voting with their feet in the opposite direction. They were crowding into garages in Silicon Valley and paying, you know, $2 million for a shed, and they were paying extremely high rents in San Francisco and in Manhattan...why were they doing that?

David Autor: Well, it seemed to be that if you want to do that type of work, that creative work, that highly remunerated work, you had to be in the physical place where it was being done. And that was unavoidable. So the question is, if we, like, de densify, what do we lose? And the answer is we don't know yet because we haven't tried it. But one thing is the network effect of everybody being online and prepared to meet telepresently may reduce the cost of people being a little more distant. And we're only beginning to discover what we can do this way. Zoom, which many of us are using, is by no means the end, it’s just the very beginning. Zoom is just basically people on a TV. Why don’t we have a virtual reality version of that, right? We will figure out ways to create a simulated environment that has virtues that are not present in the physical environment.

Steven Greenhouse: So one of the advantages of cities and people crowding at the central business districts is, you know, there's networking, you meet fascinating people, you trade ideas. It's hard to do that on Zoom because on Zoom, you're only meeting people you already know. So is that a problem? The loss of networking?

David Autor: It is. I think that's a problem. You know, you're never just going to run into someone on your computer monitor and say, “Hey, what are you doing here? What are you working on?” Right? So I think that's the problem is that a lot of this happenstance interaction is much less likely to occur. So the question is, will we find a way to create that? And I do know, I mean, I have friends who are working on technologies that basically create these spaces where you’re asked to meet people then after the conference, you're sort of dumped into a room together and so on.

Steven Greenhouse: Speed dating for engineers.

David Autor: Exactly, exactly. But look, you know, we've moved marriage and dating markets online. I'm optimistic that there's more potential than we immediately recognize. Steven Greenhouse: If we’re going to have this increased use of technology and automation, how might the increased productivity and prosperity that will presumably result be better shared with America’s workers?

David Autor: So this is something that my colleagues and I on the Work of the Future Task Force at MIT have written about a lot. And our view is that we have a huge range of choice about the quality of jobs that we provide to people. We've seen massive growth in productivity and wealth creation, but it's been extremely unequally shared. That didn't have to work that way. It didn't work that way in most countries. Most advanced economies to which we compare ourselves, you know, Germany or Switzerland or France or Italy—they all have their strengths and weaknesses, but none of them has seen the level of growth of inequality the United States has seen or the fall in living standards of the low paid workers the U.S. has seen. And it's important to remember, there's a kind of a dogma that the U.S. is a free market economy and everybody else is a socialist economy.

David Autor: And that's ridiculous. We are all on the spectrum of mixed economies. The government consumes 20% of GDP in the United States, and it provides public schools, and it provides a military, and it builds roads, and so on. And it sets the rules. Other countries are similar, but they make different choices. The US has chosen one extreme. What I want to emphasize is that's not a function of our technology. It's not a pure function of the market. It's a function of public choice. We're richer than any society has ever been on average. And there's a lot we can do with those riches. We can decide whether we want to have an economy that is kind of a winner take all or winner take most economy, or we can have one that has more public investment, more of a safety net and more of a focus on creating a kind of a base of shared prosperity. So I think there's a very, you know, passionate public debate about how we ought to re-prioritize. And obviously people feel very strongly in opposing directions.

Steven Greenhouse: Do you think we as a nation, do you think the government has done enough to fight income inequality?

David Autor: I do not personally think so, but that's just my opinion. There's no correct answer to this question because it is a question of values. What you think is the appropriate commitment we have to other citizens. I do think you could argue the US has allowed an inefficient amount of inequality such that it's actually costing us something because it's inhibiting economic mobility, preventing people from developing skills and realizing opportunities, and even creating all kinds of distortions in our economic system, where once people with so much money have excess weight in the political system, we make bad decisions. So I hesitate to say, what is the right amount of inequality? I would prefer less of it personally, but I do think that it's possible that some inequality is necessary for dynamism to provide incentives, to give people reasons to invent and create and reap the wealth. Too much inequality can lead to dynasticism, where your circumstances of birth determine your entire life course, because if you're born poor, you'll never have the schooling and the opportunity to succeed. I think the US is moving towards dynasticism, and that's too much inequality. If inequality leads to stagnation.

Steven Greenhouse: You’ve written a lot about the importance of job retraining to lift workers and their pay. Many people have criticized America's retraining efforts over the years. What would you do to improve them, especially in a post-COVID labor market?

David Autor: Adult training is hard. It's not like sending kids to school. In fact, one reason adult training in public sector has tended to fail historically is because we thought it was just like sending kids to school. That doesn't work for adults. Their attention spans are different. They need focused learning. Plus they have complex lives with children and financial needs. They can't sit in classrooms all day and just do their homework. And so when you're training adults, you need to identify: What is the job toward which you're targeting them? What are the skills they need initially to be able to get there? And then what is the program that connects those two? We don't have massive programs that we can just scale up to do those things. They have to be much more calibrated, right? So there are great opportunities in some of the medical para professions—in nursing, in radiology tech. There's great computer tech jobs, you know, security jobs.

David Autor: There's going to be jobs in construction. There's going to be jobs in the trades, you know, in plumbing and electrical work. For the right person, those are great jobs. And so you have to have a high quality program that targets people appropriately and sends them to the right opportunity. And that's hard to do at scale. Now we have much better evidence on what works than we did 20 years ago, and that evidence base is growing. And in addition, the technology for training people is also improving. So I, one thing I hope we get much better at during this crisis is distance learning. Not sending people to places to learn things, but allowing them to learn on their own time with a set of engrossing and efficient educational technologies. You know, I think the higher education sector in which I work is going to take a long term hit from the crisis because we are basically the world's most overpriced streaming service right now. And I think people are going to reevaluate the value proposition.

Steven Greenhouse: Considering everything we’ve talked about, what do you think recovery will look like from here? How do we move forward?

David Autor: It's quite uncertain and it depends on the nature which the recovery takes, right? So you could imagine a deep V recession, where we lose lots of jobs. Then we bounce right back up to where we were and everyone goes back to their old job, right? We already see people returning to previous jobs. Some of that's going to happen. The problem is the fact that we've been at this for months now means that a lot of habits have changed. And that means that we can't bounce back to where we were, because we're going to be in a different place.

David Autor: Now that's not altogether bad. I don't want to be sentimental. It just means that it will be a slower recovery because it requires more reallocation, more people to change jobs, more people to change locations, more people to learn a new set of skills, right? So in the long run, we may be happier that we're traveling less and we just work at home, whatever— that may all be good. But it's going to slow the recovery because people can't just go back. They can't just return to their workstations. So I think it will create challenges. And of course we have a big budgetary challenge. We have borrowed a lot of money. I think that's quite manageable right now. I would do it again. I would like to see the United States not only borrow what it's borrowed, but double it again and spend it on investments in itself, spend it on infrastructure, spend it on improving schools, spend it on helping adults develop skills and rebuilding communities. I think, you know, interest rates are basically zero right now. We can borrow as much money as we want at no cost. This is the moment to invest in ourselves. Will that happen? Well, we'll know, in a few months

Steven Greenhouse: Ok before you go, I’d like to end on a couple of quick questions.

David Autor: Great.

Steven Greenhouse: If crises, beget solutions. What do you see as the biggest opportunity right now?

David Autor: I think the biggest opportunity is in education. In figuring out how to make education and skills training for adults and others, much more readily available at lower cost delivered to where you are and calibrated to your learning style and your needs.

Steven Greenhouse: What is the biggest practical obstacle standing in the way of that?

David Autor: Many of these things have not been evaluated. And so there's a lot of hype and there's a lot of good ideas mixed in with a lot of bad ideas. And it's very difficult for people to tell the difference. And so the challenge is not creating programs, it's figuring out which ones are good and which ones are worth paying for.

Steven Greenhouse: And what is one plausible accomplishment over the next 12 months that would give you the most optimism about the path ahead?

David Autor: I would like to see the unemployment insurance system permanently expanded and also made more flexible such that it's not, you know, either or, but we use much more of a short time work system— you don't necessarily lay someone off all the way, but you reduce their hours and the government…

Steven Greenhouse: Work sharing.

David Autor: Work sharing, yeah. If we did that, I would say not only would that be good for workers, but be a good sign that we recognize that the social safety net needed to be expanded and could be expanded effectively.


Steven Greenhouse: David, this was great. Very helpful, very informative, very insightful. Uh, thanks so much. I learned a lot.

David Autor: Thank you. Great questions. I hope I did them some justice. That was a pleasure.


Danielle Mattoon: Thank you for listening to The World As You’ll Know It.

Steven Greenhouse is the author of Beaten Down, Worked Up. David Autor is the co-author of “The Nature of Work after the COVID Crisis.” You can find links to their work and more in our show notes.

This podcast is brought to you by Aventine Research Institute, a non-profit dedicated to supporting work that helps us understand the long-term consequences of today’s decisions and behaviors on the future. I’m Danielle Mattoon, Editorial Director. The views expressed are those of the participants and do not represent those of Aventine, its employees or affiliates. This podcast is produced in partnership with Pineapple Street Studios.


Next time on The World As You’ll Know It? we talk about how COVID might affect the future of economic policy...

Jared Bernstein: We're also facing a crisis of historical concerns. The last time the debt to GDP ratio was 106% was when we were fighting fascism in the 1940s. And now we're fighting a microbe.

Join us back here for another conversation with Steven Greenhouse. This time with Jared Bernstein, Former Chief Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.



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