The Workweek: A Round-Up of Labor Market Links for the Week Ending 2/17/17

Here’s the latest Workweek, the Indeed Hiring Lab’s round-up of the latest research, news, and perspectives that made us think deeply or differently about the labor market this week. It’s your guide to the most important new insights about work.

These are our picks for this week:

The Effect of H-1B Visas

One possible change to U.S. immigration policy might be the scaling back of the H-1B visa program, which provides temporary employment for foreign workers in speciality occupations — in practice that’s mostly tech workers from India. New academic research estimates that high-skill immigration boosted tech firms’ profits and lowered prices for customers, while reducing wages and employment for US-born computer scientists. Yet, in an unrelated survey, top economists were nearly unanimous in the belief that reducing H-1B visas would raise neither employment for US workers nor tax revenues.

Remote Work on the Rise

More people are working remotely, and for more of the time. A new Gallup survey found that 43% of employed Americans worked remotely in 2016, up from 39% in 2012. The increase was largest in the finance, insurance, and real estate sectors. However, remote work remains rarer in retail and and other face-to-face industries — which also tend to be the jobs that can be found everywhere, as Indeed discovered last week. (New York Times)

International Migration Within Asia

Demographic changes are coming unevenly to Asia. By 2030, much of East Asia — especially China — will need immigrants, while much of South and Southeast Asia — including India and the Philippines — will have too many workers, relative to today. If the aging parts of Asia that need immigrants became more open to foreign domestic workers, it could expand their labor force, lift native workers’ employment, and possibly even increase birth rates: a “triple benefit.” (The Economist)

“Way Too Much Fun” to Retire

With the dramatic rise of women’s employment in the second half of the 20th century, the gap between men’s and women’s career paths has narrowed. One result is that women are working longer and retiring later, especially women with college degrees — suggesting that many are continuing to work by choice rather than out of economic necessity. (New York Times)

Disturbing Lessons from Economic History

Those who worry less about the long-term effect of automation on jobs point out that other massive shifts, like the Industrial Revolution and the mechanization of agriculture, made the world richer and more productive. But history suggests these transitions were prolonged and painful, with falling wages, political overreactions, and “poisoned economic policy.” There might be little comfort in believing that this time won’t be different. (Tyler Cowen in Bloomberg View)

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