“Make American Great Again” is not a precise slogan, but it did capture the sense of anxiety many Americans feel about work in the 21st century. The “gig economy,” in which more and more American workers rely on multiple jobs, is certainly different from the job market just three generations ago, when employers offered the stability of life-long employment and the promise of a pension-funded retirement. In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Cornell University’s Louis Hyman about the origins of the so-called “good job” in the mid-20th century, and the forces that led us from there to what he calls the “second industrious revolution.” He also explains how we might structure the economy of the 21st century in a way that offers the freedom of the gig economy without the insecurity that so many face under our current institutions.
Dr. Louis Hyman is a historian of work and business at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, where he also directs the Institute for Workplace Studies in New York City. His book Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary (Viking) will be released on August 21, 2018.