Not Working: What ails our labour markets and how to fix them
Review: David G Blanchflower's diagnosis of new labour market ills is insightful but hard work in places
One of the book’s most interesting insights for an Irish audience is into the relationship between homeownership and labour mobility. Photograph: Yuri Arcurs via Getty
“The rich world is enjoying an unprecedented jobs boom,” proffered a recent headline in the Economist. Unemployment rates in the US, UK, Germany and Japan are plumbing depths unseen in decades. Robust job growth in the early months of 2019 sent the Irish unemployment rate below 5 per cent for the first time since 2007, leading some economists to suggest we are nearing “full employment”.
David G Blanchflower’s new tome, Not Working, may then appear to cut against the grain of the data. On the contrary, record low unemployment rates are the jumping-off point for this encyclopaedic survey of what ails our labour markets.
His central argument is that the unemployment rate is no longer the best indicator of how much slack there is in an economy because it ignores the extent to which people have given up the job search altogether (labour force participation) and part-timers want more hours (underemployment). This, he argues, is why wages are not growing as fast as would have been the case when unemployment rates were last so low.