Footlose Jobs: Restarting Employment

By Shlomo Maital

    A long time ago, I recall studying economic geography and learning about the geographical location of industries.   Steel plants, for instance, should be near river transportation – for transporting coal and coke barges.  (e.g. Pittsburgh, on three rivers).  Stockyards for cattle should be at rail junctions (Chicago, e.g.).   Some industries need to be near consumers, e.g. bakeries.   Some industries need fine weather, e.g. aviation – California. 

      But some industries are footloose.  They can be anywhere. 

      So – what happens when nearly everything and everyone are …footloose.  Work from home.  And in another sense – what happens when you give nearly everyone a whole year to contemplate their jobs, meaning of life, goals….and for many, do a restart. 

       Major changes are afoot.  Real estate prices will change.  Cities will change. Transportation will change.  Employment conditions and social contracts will change.  Exactly how?  And how much?  It is not at all clear.  What is clear, is that many people are simply not eager to return to their old jobs, as they re-open.   We may see a boom in small startups. 

         It could be that through inertia, we’ll go back to the same old ‘normal’.  Or, each of us can take this opportunity to do a real reboot, a ‘build back better’, not a political slogan, but a personal mandate for our own lives. 

          A lot of people are doing it.  Why not join them?