The evolving nature of work

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This Labor Day weekend comes in the wake of a turbulent pandemic, accompanied by record high unemployment followed abruptly by concerns about a labor shortage. These facts occasion some introspection about the future of work in America. To do so means recognizing the current and likely future state of labor markets, as well as an acknowledgement of a deeper, more complex role that work plays in our lives and wellbeing.

Humans were made to work, and the celebration of labor is a key part of every successful modern society, nowhere more so than in the United States. Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of early America noted, “Among a Democratic people, where there is no hereditary wealth, every man works to earn a living, or is born of parents who have worked. The notion of labor is presented to the mind, on every side, as the necessary, natural and honest condition.” Even today, Americans work almost a full week more per year than the average…

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