Future Friday: Improvements versus Jobs

by Michael Haberman on May 17, 2019 · 0 comments

The future may depend on large improvements in productivity that may initially cost jobs.

In a recent report
economists Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo in an important new paper (pdf), explain that the future of workers may depend on how technology advances productivity. Big technological advances that really advance worker productivity may cost workers their jobs initially, but in the long run, provide opportunities for workers to make more money, albeit, probably in different fields. The authors explain from their research that what they call “so-so technologies” are the real dangers to the future of workers. These “so-so technologies” take away jobs at a slower pace, but they offer little to no replacement jobs. That is how workers lose positions with no new jobs.

According to reporter Dan Kopf, writing in Quartz:

To make their point, Acemoglu and Restrepo analyze data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data include information on the tasks people are asked to do in specific jobs. Using this task-based information, they can tell whether jobs being created are “new” types of work. They found that from 1947 to 1987, the impact of new technologies both destroying and creating jobs was relatively balanced. But from 1987 to 2017, automation displaced many workers, without creating as much new work. As a result, more people are competing for a similar set of jobs, driving down their wages.

Need better technology

What the US needs is the development of technologies that lead to better productivity on a larger scale. Not replacement technology but major innovations that create more jobs. Naturally, as economists, they offer some suggestions. According to Kopf the economists suggest:

In the US, for instance, they point out that the government subsidizes a company’s equipment purchases but taxes labor. This has the effect of making investing in so-so technologies more appealing then they would otherwise be. Getting rid of these subsidies would help. They also point to the fall in government spending on research with long-time horizons, which may help uncover the next truly revolutionary technology.

So if you are in the business of creation try to create big. Destroy jobs to create jobs.


There’s a brewing battle of a sort in many companies today—one that’s known as Millennials vs Gen Z in the workplace. To be clear, there isn’t any violent competition between these two cohorts, but it’s got more to do with their generational differences that manifest in their working style.

As a recruiter, it pays to remember that every one of your employees is a unique individual and that there is no need for comparisons among them. However, knowing that there are patterns in the way that each generation thinks or performs can be helpful in establishing a workplace where millennials and Gen Zers can become good co-workers. 

The more you understand this distinction, the more effective you can be in coming up with an office environment that addresses the individual as well as collective needs of your employees. They may have opposite personalities or subscribe to different schools of thought, but at the end of the day, they’re colleagues that work together toward a common goal.

Here’s an infographic describing how you can prepare your employees for success, regardless of the generation they represent.



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The EEOC has a new Chairperson

by Michael Haberman on May 14, 2019 · 0 comments

My friend Eric B. Meyer, a respected attorney and doubly respected blog writer of The Employer Handbook, reports that the EEOC has a new chair and as a result a quorum. This means that some progress may be made by the EEOC in some areas, such as sexual harassment.

Rather than trying to recreate what Eric said, I am going to refer you to his blog post. The EEOC has a new Chair and a quorum. Here’s what this means for employers. It is well worth your time to read Eric’s post. I do all the time.


In an opinion letter recently issued by the Department of Labor, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) answer an inquiry about whether workers providing services in a virtual marketing marketplace were employees of independent contractors. The analysis the WHD administrator went through is interesting to read. It is a somewhat different analysis the IRS goes through.

Economic Dependence

The WHD does an analysis that tries to determine the economic dependence on the employer or independence from the employer. They use six factors. These factors include:

(1) The nature and degree of the potential employer’s control;

(2) The permanency of the worker’s relationship with the potential employer;

(3) The amount of the worker’s investment in facilities, equipment, or helpers;

(4) The amount of skill, initiative, judgment, or foresight required for the worker’s services;

(5) The worker’s opportunities for profit or loss; and

(6) The extent of integration of the worker’s services into the potential employer’s business.

To understand how these are applied to an individual case you need to read the opinion letter.


For example, issue number one is the amount of control the employer exercise over the worker. If, according to the WHD:

A business may have control where it, for example, requires a worker to work exclusively for the business; disavow working for or interacting with competitors during the working relationship; work against the interests of a competitor; work inflexible shifts, achieve large quotas, or work long hours, so that it is impracticable to work elsewhere; or otherwise face restrictions on or sanctions for external economic conduct, among others.

In the aspect of control the worker is going to be deemed an employee and not an independent contractor.

The opinion letter continues with this type of analysis for all of these factors, and although, this opinion letter deals with just a particular company, this analysis is a lesson for us all in understanding the type of consideration the WHD might to in other cases. I encourage you to read it through.

Mistakes made on independent contractors can be very expensive. They generally affect more than just one employee and the fines, back pay, and taxes can be daunting.


Overcoming the Inertia of Vacation

by Michael Haberman April 22, 2019

Tweet In physics one of Newton’s basic laws is that of inertia, that is a body at rest will remain at rest until acted upon by an external force. That is what happened to me when I went on vacation. I suspended my blog while I was on vacation and I have not gotten back […]

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The USDOL is revising the definition of “Regular Rate of Pay”

by Michael Haberman April 3, 2019

Tweet Back in January, I wrote a post entitled What is the “regular rate of pay according to the USDOL.” At that time I explained that many employers made FLSA overtime mistakes because they did not calculate overtime on the correct rate of pay. The USDOL has introduced a proposal to revise and clarify the […]

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On Vacation

by Michael Haberman March 15, 2019

Tweet I am taking a break from blogging for the next several weeks. I am on a much-needed vacation. Thank you for your understanding. Tweet

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Motivated Employees and Where to Find Them

by Michael Haberman March 13, 2019

Tweet Today’s blog is a guest post.  Sometimes companies take that “we are a customer-centric business” mantra so seriously that they either neglect their employees or they fail to grasp their role in their brand’s success. While it’s commendable that you’re doing your absolute best to amaze and dazzle your audience, it’s good to remember […]

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The USDOL releases new salary requirements to maintain exempt status

by Michael Haberman March 11, 2019

Tweet On March 7, 2019, the United States Department of Labor released the long-awaited adjustment to the salary level that is the first hurdle to claiming an employee is exempt from being paid overtime. This movement toward a new salary level began in the Obama administration which had proposed a new salary level of $47,476 […]

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A lesson in overtime pay

by Michael Haberman March 5, 2019

Tweet Two employers learned a lesson in understanding the rules of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA requires that non-exempt employees receive overtime pay based on their “regular of pay”. Unfortunately, many employers don’t understand that term. Regular rate of pay is not the hourly figure that the employee was hired at, it is, […]

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