Must-Read: Jared Bernstein: More on the non-mystery of non-work: “Employment rates of prime-age workers…

…What’s important… is that the German labor market has been hit with the same two factors typically raised to explain the increase in non-work: globalization and technology. Why have German prime-age men and women fared so much better than those in the US?

  • Much more union coverage, and German unions work with both management and government to support employment through apprenticeships, training programs, and export-oriented manufacturing policies.

  • This last bit is supported by their undervalued currency; as the strong man in the eurozone, the German currency would rise if it could float. As it is, their current account surplus is a whopping 8% of GDP, meaning they’re essentially importing labor demand from weaker eurozone economies.

  • They’re just more “we’re-in-this-together” when it comes to labor market policies…. In the recession… broad swaths of workers took reduced hours with part of their lost earnings replaced through gov’t support….

  • Don’t assume that accelerating, labor-saving technology–faster productivity growth, robotics–in manufacturing is what’s dinging these guys long-term….

Conservative Nick Eberstadt, according to the NYT would:

like to intensify social pressure on the cadre of men who have stopped looking for work. “Why haven’t we had the same sort of conversation about stigmatizing or shaming unworking men that we had 20 years ago about mothers on welfare?

he said. “They were not idle; they had little kids.”

I say before we go to the shaming place, let’s get the policy right…. A clear cyclical response… around the negative trend… the cyclical responsiveness has increased over time…. CEA… assigned less than 10% of the decline in prime-age male work to the disability rolls…. The evidence of jobs leaving workers is more persuasive than that of workers leaving jobs.