Work in the new era

Welcome to the next world, a world where work is not what it used to be. No more fear of losing your job and joining the unemployment queue. Gone is the anguish of missing the metro and arriving late, or the frustration of having to accept meaningless assignments, gruelling conditions and low wages. Thanks to a dizzying post-pandemic recovery, the balance of power has shifted: employees are now in a position to have their voices heard and – at least in part – to stipulate their conditions. This can be seen in the recruitment difficulties affecting all eurozone countries for the last two years. Salaries are also on the rise, though these increases do not match price increases. Another indication is the boom in remote work, which would have been unthinkable in many countries before Covid struck. A revolution is shaking up the world of work, but as with any sudden change, there is a downside.

Main findings:

  • Unemployment is clearly falling, but it has not disappeared, and there are still many who remain excluded.
  • Remote work offers more freedom to employees, but it comes at the cost of increased isolation and the breakdown of organised labour.
  • Covid has also been a formidable accelerator of the platformisation of our economies, with starkly negative impacts on the working conditions of uberised workers. Here too we see the advent of a highly fragmented world of work.
  • Finally, by sharply raising key interest rates, the ECB is determined to hit the brakes. To curb inflation, the central bankers want to slow down activity, at the cost of a future increase in unemployment. For the time being, their effectiveness is limited. Despite a slowdown in activity, employment is showing resilience, to the point of shaking the firmly anchored certainties of economists, who are losing faith in their mathematical models. Will this new world of work taking shape be a mere parenthesis? Or does it foreshadow a lasting upheaval?


The data unit

Catherine André (Alternatives Economiques, coordinator) is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Alternatives Economiques. A French graduate of Sciences-Po Paris and the London School of Economics, she has cofounded Voxeurop, speaks several languages and worked at Courrier international, Sciences et Vie Economie, and L’Expansion.

EDJNet members which took part in this investigation:

From our podcast Uncharted Europe

Listen to "Episode #8 - Why Europeans no longer want to work as before" on Spreaker.