I was very happy to see Krugman post today about the structural unemployment-education issue that I’ve been repeatedly flogging here. As usual, he’s got the goods:
“we’ve been pretty sympathetic to structural explanations for the slow pace of the recovery. Nonetheless, we have yet to find much evidence that problems with skill-mismatch are more important postrecession than they were prerecession. We’ll keep looking, but—as our colleagues at the Chicago Fed conclude in their most recent Chicago Fed Letter—so far the facts just don’t support skill gaps as the major source of our current labor market woes.”
Am I totally certain that the problem isn’t structural? Hey, I’m not totally certain of anything! But there really is no evidence, none at all, for a story that nonetheless gets asserted as absolute fact in op-ed after op-ed.
In a structural crisis, employers rid themselves of employees who had the skills appropriate to earlier stages of economic development, but who are no longer increasing their productivity, and replace them with workers that have new skills that lead to faster rises in productivity. During such junctures, economic growth does NOT simply lead directly to more jobs and higher wages.
Gladstone, I should be quick to point out, identifies other causes for the recession, and his piece is overall worthwhile. It just seems to be another case of the temptation of the structural narrative to overwhelm the need to show evidence.
I grow discouraged!