Tom Friedman and Laura Tyson debate the "good" jobs economy

Tom Friedman and Laura Tyson debate the "good" jobs economy
Tom Friedman, author and columnist, engaged in a conversation with Laura Tyson, former White House economic advisor and Haas School professor, at the 2014 re:Work event on why “good” job creation is critical to global economic development, political stability, and well-being.

Societal changes, Friedman argued, are removing the proverbial glass ceiling for top performers, but the floor is falling out from underneath low-income workers who are suffering from wage stagnation. Tyson pointed out that some companies, like Ikea, saw that they needed to pay their employees a living wage not only because it was the right thing to do, but also because their customers are people like their employees. As fair wage calculators demonstrate, the minimum wage is often not actually enough for a worker to get by on. She also discussed how companies can use various methods of profit sharing with employees to better distribute wealth.

Friedman suggested there will be a “motivational divide” after the digital divide, which will put more responsibility on the individual to seek opportunities through entrepreneurship, microwork, and online learning. Tyson countered that motivation is not what keeps many low-income workers from moving up. For example, a single mom with two kids is highly motivated, but may not have the time or flexibility to build her capacity to compete for a higher quality job. We need to update our social contract to support people’s ability to access higher quality jobs, Tyson urged.