July 11, 2018

When analyzing labor markets, do not ignore the time being wasted/used consuming distractions.

Sir, (as usual) I read with much interest Sarah O’Connor’s article on “labour shortages being reported gloomily all over the developed world” “Labour scarcity helps heal workers’ deep financial scars” July 11.

I think she forgot to include in her analysis the fact that more and more time is used during working hours in distractions. On a recent visit to a major shop in the Washington area, 8 out of the 11 attendances I saw were busy with some type of activity on their i-phones, and I seriously suspect they were not just checking inventories.

Less hours effectively worked, should translate not only in labor shortages but also into higher real salaries. And I also frequently ask myself what would our economic data be telling if treated the distractions as consumption. Could productivity have been increasing fabulously without us noticing it?