If current labor trends hold, the company of the future won’t have any employees outside of the C-suite.
That’s the focus of our documentary podcast “The Uncertain Hour.” This season is about jobs and how the idea of “employment” as we once knew it is disappearing.
“There’s been this kind of seismic shift in how we’re thinking about workers,” Marketplace producer Peter Balonon-Rosen said. “Companies are looking at the people who provide labor for them as another commodity that they can go out and buy at scale. Like you might think about office supplies, like pens.”
That’s given rise to staffing agencies, more independent contractor jobs and, of course, gig work. Before the pandemic, more than a quarter of the world’s largest employers dealt in “people at scale,” renting out workers to other companies.
But what made corporations fall out of love with their employees in the first place? It’s in part an unintended consequence of just one academic paper from 30 years ago. On today’s show, Balonon Rosen tells us all about it.
Later in the show, we’ll talk about “infrastructure week.” Remember those? Plus, we hear from a listener who’s administering COVID-19 vaccines, and another who’s reckoning with the massive death toll the disease has wrought.
When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ve got Velveeta, pork-barrel spending and Oreos. Yum. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.
Here are links to everything we talked about on the show today:
- Balonon-Rosen’s episode of “The Uncertain Hour,” “The Liquid Workforce“
- The original paper on “core competence” (PDF)
- “After Stimulus, Biden to Tackle Another Politically Tricky Issue: Infrastructure” from The New York Times
- “Oldest Texas electricity co-op goes bust after getting hit with $2 billion bill” from CBS News
- “Biden Expects U.S. to Have Covid-19 Vaccines for All Adults by End of May” from The Wall Street Journal
Finally: We need your voice memos! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood to answer! Here’s how to do it.
None of us is as smart as all of us.
No matter how bananapants your day is, “Make Me Smart” is here to help you through it all— 5 days a week.
It’s never just a one-way conversation. Your questions, reactions, and donations are a vital part of the show. And we’re grateful for every single one.