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June 27, 2013


Luis Enrique

David Autor has some great papers in this area



83.1% doesn't sound like great news.

17% graduate unemployment?


I also worry about scale effects.

What's the difference in numbers between skilled and unskilled (and mid-skilled) parts of the economy?

To put it another way, it seems meaningful that countries like Spain can't find employment even for all their high skilled workers. This suggests that unless we find ways to expand our economies then training more workers to a high level will just largely change their unemployed status from "unemployed unskilled" to "unemployed high skilled."

Or another example, some governmental report cited "informational biology" graduates as an example of "high skill shortages" - but while it's obviously true that the education system needs to respond to this, under current conditions there are actually no more than 1000 jobs across Europe in this skill. The scales between unemployment and high skill employment are just widely divergent.


@ Metatone - no. The empt/pop ratio can be low because people are out of the labour force because of illness/ being home-makers or being early retired as well as being unemployed.
You're certainly right that there's a danger of unemployment among the high-skilled; this is why training and education are not enough.

Ralph Musgrave

Interesting article, but the Keynes quote at the end doesn’t have much bearing on the contents of the article.

The real relevance of that Keynes quote is that it rebuts the deficit and debt obsession suffered by numerous economic illiterates in high places: Rogoff, Reinhart, the IMF, the OECD, the Labour and Tory parties, etc.

As advocates of Modern Monetary Theory keep pointing out (and there is little difference between MMT and Keynes) the deficit and debt are a complete, total and utter irrelevance: the only real constraint on expanding employment is inflation (for given labour market efficiency).

I.e. ignore the deficit and debt (or the “budget” in Keynes words). Just minimise unemployment in as far as that’s compatible with acceptable inflation, and the deficit and debt will bob up and down depending on the private sector’s desire to hold debt.


I wonder if the effect of any decline in demand for middlingly-skilled workers will simply be to push them into competition with the un-skilled workers for the low-skill jobs. The kid who leaves school with no qualifications can't get that supermarket check-out job because it's been taken by a graduate who can't find other work, and Sainsburys and Waitrose would rather have someone polite and middle class to deal with their customers (although of course, supermarket check-out workers are being replaced by robots anyway)

john malpas

so importing unskilled workers serves what purpose?


A spot of market analysis - the key is to look at the employment profile of one's economy. So which markets best match our employment needs? The 'unethical' ones. We might baulk at the terrorist market but recreational drugs seem a good world market. Then military kit seems expensive and unprofitable but the world's insurgents seem in need of much simpler kit - for cash and encourages the high-end sales.

Closer to home we might encourage brothels and drug dens - useful employment opportunities. We will shortly have unemployed soldiers on our hands - use them for some 'creative destruction' - better than endless planning enquiries and quickly followed by useful reconstruction opportunities. I think you get the idea.


And how do you reconcile this analysis with large-scale migration of unskilled foreign workers to the UK?

The answer to your analysis is threefold.

1. Improve the skill base through education and training

2. Increase the number of unskilled jobs

3. Reduce the number of unskilled migrants

Without (3), you simply create a magnet for foreign unskilled labour, condemning vast swathes of UK citizens to a life on benefits.

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