Thursday, October 4

The softening labour market

I came across an interesting observation yesterday. I was looking at the number of hours worked per worker (and whether it changed during periods of economic downturns). Not surprisingly, the long term trend has been down (we all know more people are working part-time).

What caught my eye was hours worked per civilian population count.

This series has been remarkably flat over the past 25 years. It left me wondering why. Perhaps there is the natural cap on the capacity of households to contribute hours to national productivity. Perhaps, as women work longer hours (as has happened over the past 25 years) men work shorter hours; perhaps sharing the household responsibilities more as well.

The other thing that is clear, during times of downturn, the hours worked per civilian population count declines. Which brings us to the end of the chart. Is this latest slump more evidence of a slow softening in the labour market.

1 comment:

  1. RE the long-term constancy of the hours/population number. I think this can be summed up as women spending more hours in the labour market, while men have shorter working lives because of increases in education and more early retirement. I wouldn't assume that this leads to much more housework by men :-). At the same time, income support reliance has gone up (though this is now declining - according to a presentation by Bob Gregory yesterday).

    So, in one sense the extra taxes paid by working women have financed more education and early retirement - though why this should balance out as constant hours/person is still a puzzle.