Facing a Changing World

Right now, the pandemic is raging with new COVID-19 cases rapidly increasing.  Things are in flux.  This holiday season will look different from past holidays.

Back at the end of July, I talked about how the pandemic is speeding up the rate of adoption of new ideas and new technology.  This means some jobs are not coming back when this pandemic is over.  That is what Fed Chairman Powell is worried about.

Powell cautioned that displaced workers are going to need extended support as the U.S. economy recovers in ways that will be different from its former self.

“We’re not going back to the same economy,” Powell said. “We’re recovering, but to a different economy and it will be one that is more leveraged to technology, and I worry that it’s going to make it even more difficult than it was for many workers.”

The central bank leader said he was referring specifically to “relatively low-paid public-facing workers who are bearing this brunt,” many of whom are women and minorities. (From CNBC)

How many of you are going to do most or all your shopping online this Christmas? I expect many more will and there will not be very many going to the stores.  In some places the stores may not even be open. The store clerks are some of  the “public-facing workers” he is talking about.  Will they have jobs when this is over?  The big box stores have been struggling for some time now, but I am more worried about the small Mom-and-Pop stores surviving and the survival of other small businesses such as restaurants.

So as jobs disappear for many employees and small business owners, what will their replacement jobs look like? Will they be able to use the skills they have from the past?  Will there be unskilled jobs available?  Or will they need to be retrained? If retrained, will there be enough jobs available for them in their new field?  Lots of unknowns, but unfortunately l believe this economic transition will be messy. Everyone will need to be resilient.

This pandemic is lasting much longer than I thought it would.  I should have realized that it would last a while.  The 1918 “Spanish” flu pandemic actually lasted over 2 years (February 1918 to April 1920). I don’t think this pandemic will last that long because there is a vaccine coming, but the pandemic will be around for over a year.

There is also concern about this generation of children.  Because of the sudden shutdown of schools last spring with some attempts at remote learning, these children missed significant classroom experiences.  My wife came out of retirement, to meet a desperate need for a first grade teacher at Immanuel Lutheran School.  She confirms that her students have some challenging gaps in learning–socially, academically, and behaviorally.  Today’s students need to catch up.  Because of the large number of new COVID-19 cases, many schools are going back to remote learning.  Is remote learning currently up to the task?  Right now I would say remote learning is not up to the task for many, if not most, children, especially in the lower grades. Right now, I think, remote learning works well for students who are motivated, but the rest of the students need more than just remote learning. In the future, I believe remote learning will be part of a child’s education, but right now it is not quite ready.  Teachers will have to be flexible, creative, and resilient.

This pandemic is having a major effect on our economy and society.  The pandemic is changing our world.  Welcome to the emerging new 21st century normal, where we all will need to be resilient.

2 thoughts on “Facing a Changing World

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