Here is a summary of what is transpiring in the U.S. labor market these days: fewer Americans are filing for unemployment benefits, jobs are being created at a sluggish pace so far, and employers are finding it challenging to fill open positions. This is the state of the American jobs market. Overall, the U.S. economy is on the road to recovery but at a slower-than-expected pace.
Will Red States Save America?
For those who enjoy a good old-fashioned elephant-donkey or red-blue rivalry, the Republicans may have a slight edge in President Joe Biden’s America. According to WalletHub, relying on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), eight of the ten states whose unemployment claims are declining the quickest are Republican-led. This is what the top ten list looks like:
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- North Dakota
- New York
Moreover, four of the top five states reporting the smallest increase in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits were Republican: Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, and New Hampshire. Jill Gonzalez, a WalletHub analyst, believes that ending the added jobless benefits is a good development for the labor market:
“The fact that almost half of U.S. states are ending their extra unemployment benefits early is good news for the labor market. Taking this step will prevent cases where people make more money unemployed than they would while employed, which will lead to more people going back to work. All states should follow the example of the states that have already ended the extra unemployment benefits. The vaccines have proven very effective and have brought about a massive reduction in COVID-19 cases, so it’s time we move to fully restart the economy and get back to life as usual.”
Quitting a Job Over Pajamas?
For years, companies worldwide have been apprehensive about adopting policies allowing their employees to work from home. The concern had always been that workers would be less productive, and there would be a reduction in collaboration and camaraderie. For the last 15 months, businesses have been forced to embrace remote work. However, with vaccines being rolled out and the economy returning to some semblance of normalcy, could it be business as usual once again?
Bloomberg recently published a fascinating article titled “Employees Are Quitting Instead of Giving Up Working From Home.” The piece reported on staffers who have considered telecommuting as the new normal. Workers have exploited the cultural shift to their advantage, enjoying the cost-savings and spending less time in transit.
Now that employers are beginning to welcome their staff back to the workplace, millennial and Generation Z professionals are not happy. In fact, surveys have found that they might submit their resignations if employers no longer provide the workforce with flexible options.
While not all positions can be done from the comfort of a humble abode, many jobs performed at a desk and in front of a computer screen can be completed at a kitchen counter in cozy pajamas. Critics assert that employers forcing their employees back to the office landscape are partaking in a “boomer power play.”
At the same time, people who are avid about working from home may need to consider the possibility that their positions could be outsourced to low-wage countries. If a job can be done remotely, why should a U.S. company hire American workers, pay higher compensation, and deal with U.S. labor laws?
The Invisible Art
Forget Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. Who cares about Caravaggio’s Narcissus? Vincent van Gogh’s masterpieces are nothing compared to what today’s artists are producing. What is the deal with modern art these days? Toilets, blank canvasses, audio flatulence, and garbage cans – these are considered forms of art that sell for vast sums of cash. But here is something that might top it all: Nothing.
That is right. The Daily Mail recently reported that an Italian artist, Salvatore Garau, sold an invisible sculpture, called “lo Sono,” for $18,000. The buyer received a certificate of authenticity to prove it is genuine. The artwork was on sale during an Italian auction hosted by Art-Rite. It was initially estimated to be sold between $7,000 and $11,000, so it surprisingly beat expectations.
How does Garau explain a piece of art you cannot see?
“You don’t see it but it exists; it is made of air and spirit. It is a work that asks you to activate the power of the imagination, a power that anyone has, even those who don’t believe they have it. After all, don’t we shape a God we’ve never seen?”
Despite the hilarity behind this concept, it is a case of subjective value at its best. Consumers who bid on “lo Sono” believed that nothing is worth something. Perhaps they have too much money. Maybe they are woke. Or is it possible that they thought this was a joke and they wanted to participate in the prank? Whatever the case, as the saying goes, there is no accounting for taste.
Read more from Andrew Moran.
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