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Book Review: The End Of Jobs

April 18, 2019

I wanted to like this book. I really did. It was a gift from a family member. She even enscribed it with a personalized message. So, I started off with high hopes.

The reality didn’t live up to the hype.

Taylor Pearson has an easy to read style. And if he were to write a novel, or a play, I think I would quite enjoy it. Unfortunately, this book is supposed to be non-fiction. As such, the errors, leaps in logic and condescending tone simply made it teadious.

Pearson’s premise is that there have been four “economies in the past millenium.

  • 1300-1700 The Agricultural Economy
  • 1700-1900 The Industrial Economy
  • 1900-2000 The Informational Economy
  • 2000- The Entrepreneurial Economy

Not surprisingly, Taylor is selling to the Entrepreneurial Economy.

I don’t disagree with the premise per se. But, Taylor tried too hard to prove it. The harder he pressed the less sure his points became. I’m going to avoid a detailed response to the idea of an Entrepreneurial Economy. Instead I’m going to focus on how Taylor put his arguments together and the things that didn’t work.

First, was an overal xenocentric tone. He makes the point that jobs and knowledge are flowing from the West toward Asia. He does not see this as a positive effect of globalization and implies that those countries are unfairly taking advantage. It’s curious because he titled his book, “The End of Jobs” and then talks about how Asia is stealing our jobs. So, did he mean the end of American jobs?

Countries like China and India. . .don’t need to spend decades developing. . .new products — they just need to read the book, or more often, photocopy it.

A high unemployement rate is important to Taylor’s underlying premise. His point is that since we have fewer traditional jobs, we must plan to create them via entreprenuership. But, he has two things working against him, the first is that he wrote his book four years ago (2015). Since then the unemployment rate has hit a 50 years low.

Taylor’s second problem is that even in 2014, the unemployement rate was improving. I happen to have made a hobby out of studying the unemployement rate and the participation rate over many years. Here’s Taylor’s quote,

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, six years after the recession ended, the unemployment rate was still in the double digits 11.2%.

That number seemed high me so I checked the footnotes. It sent me to a representation of the Labor Statistics. But, it sent me to the U6 number, not the U3 number.

U3 is the rate of unemployment released each month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It’s the “official” unemployement rate. It is calculated by measuring the number of people applying for unemployment benefits vs the number of people employed. Anything below 5% is typically considered full employment since a certain number of people are between jobs, retiring or just entering the work force.

U6 is the U3 people, plus people who have given up looking for work.

I’ve always thought the U6 number was a better indicator of the state of our economy, but the number you hear on the news is the U3 number. And honestly, anyone except stats nerds is going to think of the U3 rate when you say, “Unemployment rate.”

Looking at the U6 charts, it appears Taylor took his number from December 2014 when the U6 rate was 11.2%. That’s also about six years after the 2008 economy meltdown. If we look at the U3 number for December 2014 it’s a healthy 5.6%. (The rate as of March, 2019 is an anemic 3.8%.)

Why this lesson in economics and government statistics in the middle of a book review? Because, it strikes at the heart of Taylor’s premise (the end of jobs) and it also exposes the slight of hand he attempted to pull off to support his position.

What I Liked

Taylor’s style was very easy to read. And I found many wonderful nuggets of information that were true gems. He lays out a pattern for achieving goals that blends an aggressive 90 day schedule with a 3-5 year event horizon. It’s great advice. And there are bits and pieces that were rays of sunshine. Sadly, they were surrounded by clouds and fog of bad logic and suspect research.

What I Didn’t

As I said, I really wanted to like this book. In addition to the issues above, there were a couple of major red flags for me. First, he enthusiastically quoted Tim Ferris’ book “The Four Hour Workweek.” I reviewed Ferris’ book here. It was the only book that made me actually angry at the author. Second, toward the end of this book, Taylor was making a point about how a programmer should not go into corporate work in favor of choosing entreprenuership.

It’s also unlikely he’d do anything useful. When’s the last time something innovative came out of Goldman Sachs?

What Taylor has no way of knowing, (nor should he care) but one of the engineers who used to work for me is now a VP of Global IT at Goldman Sachs. Not only is the work he does useful, it is also quite innovative.

What It Means To You

If you are interested in entreprenuership, this is a good book to add to your reading list for research. Taylor is definitely a true believer. He will give you a fair introduction to the field, in the same way a multi-level-marketer will give you a fair introduction to the field of sales. But, if you are sick of your J-O-B and looking for something else, don’t be drawn in by Taylor’s syren song. The world is very much not as he describes it in his book. And a 3.8% unemployment rate suggested that we are a long way from the end of jobs.

My Rating

One out of four stars

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

From → Book Reviews

One Comment
  1. Randy Grein permalink

    Brilliant! I love that you are both aware of U3 vs. U6, AND know the implications. I was not happy when we changed the way we measured unemployment, any more than I was happy with the way we measure inflation. They are not fair or reasonable.

    I have to admit I find entreprenuer to be one of the most overused words in business english in part because few people fit in that mold, but also because it becomes a rat race of it’s own. But that’s another story.

    Kudos for a great review.

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