The hidden engine of the economy

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This article argues that said hidden engine is actually workplace equality, which is a pretty “woke” argument — since people have been trying to link “equality” to “financials” for years, without a huge amount of luck.

Here’s one way to conceptualize this stuff: In 1960, roughly 94% of doctors and lawyers in the U.S. were white men. Fifty years later, this number was closer to 60%.

Now you have this, from the article above:

“The 94% figure, of course, is really, really, really far from that,” Jones says, “which suggests that in 1960, you had all these not-very-talented white men who were doctors and lawyers and lots of extremely talented people from other groups who were excluded. In the past 50 years, these groups have been changing places.”

Per their research, then — which some can quibble with — greater opportunity over the last 50 years has contributed to 29% of earnings growth among black men, 51% among black women, and 77% among white women.

Stands to reason that replacing “mediocre white men” with “more diverse, talented people” would impact GDP. As Andrew Yang consistently discusses, GDP is a flawed metric — a mom of a special-needs child works her ass off every day in many respects, but technically contributes nothing to GDP. So there are better ways to conceptualized all these issues, yes.

Here’s a money shot quote for you

Again, same article:

“Over the last 50 years, more than a quarter of all growth in the U.S. GDP is attributable to these declining barriers in the labor market,” he says. “If we ask where, specifically, that growth came from, much of it is from women moving out of the home sector and working in the market, especially in highly skilled occupations.”

We typically frame this up primarily around women exiting the home more — see also discussions about the impact of The Pill — but one could argue it’s even broader than that. As we’ve become more diverse, we’ve ideally become more talented. Talent would seem to be a positive thing economically, right?

Now, it is true that both female lawyers and secretaries historically made about 30% less than their male counterparts. And a lack of salary transparency ain’t helping there.

A few issues to consider

  • Most people are not that “woke:” Many people still view biz stuff as a “man’s game,” which is kind of ridiculous. And when I say “a man’s game,” I really mean “a white man’s game.” We still need to overcome that.
  • Diversity and fiscal ties: A lot of the same people mentioned above thing of diversity as a “HR thing,” which usually is code for “I don’t need to think about this except once a year where I nod at a meeting, right?” That’s another potential issue to finding more diverse pathways and making more money in the process.
  • Cognitive diversity: We need broader definitions of diversity, too.
  • Vocabulary: For check-writers to care about this stuff, we can’t keep introducing words they don’t understand, i.e. “belonging.” HR is already overly-viewed as a Buzzword Boulevard department by world-builders. For them to get respect and find new pathways for people to allow talent to make money, these conversations need to occur more around “hard numbers” and not softer, fluffier stuff like “Inclusion is a right!” It is, but a guy concerned about KPIs more than his second-born does not believe that.

The real hidden economic engine…

… talent is a big part of the equation, sure, and getting talent over mediocrity into the right roles is too. But the actual big poppa pump coming down the pike is the Baby Boomer wealth transfer, which may help us with current debt and housing issues. There are different opinions on the wealth transfer — people say $70 trillion, give or take — especially around whether it will impact the top levels more. Of course it will. The top levels of an economic hierarchy are always impacted more than the lower levels. But I think the wealth transfer will probably help the “middle,” insofar as the middle still exists, out — and in the process maybe people will get out of debt, buy a home, have some additional children (to plow the soil!), and maybe even start the next Amazon. I mean, one can dream, right?

Whenever you are down on the current state of things, though, remember this quote →

“The key insight, though, and what I find interesting and surprising is this: Looking back at the world in the 1960s, it is stunning how big the differences were in terms of men and women and blacks and whites in the workplace,” Jones says. “We’re far closer to an equitable balance today, and it’s important to be aware that such gains aren’t simply good for the groups that most obviously benefited, but for the economy as a whole — for all of us.”

Let’s go get ’em, fam.

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