New report confronts shift in workplace amid economic crisis

Published On: March 5, 2021

With a backdrop of economic crisis and a massive shift toward telework due to the global pandemic, a new report confronts unemployment, unequal wages, and a fast-changing job landscape.

Governor Newsom’s Future of Work Commission published its findings after 18 months of meetings across the state and staff work that identifies challenges faced by businesses and government.   While started before COVID-19, the study says 2020 accelerated conditions and pushed leaders to form a “New Social Compact” for workers.

California Business Roundtable President Rob Lapsley said that it’s too soon to tell if we are beyond an economic tipping point. In a panel discussion hosted online by Capitol Weekly, Lapsley was joined by Newsom’s former economic advisory Lenny Mendonca, labor leader Caitlin Vega, and Evan White, executive director of the California Policy Lab.

“We’re going to see a fundamental shift coming out of the pandemic of what work looks like, for California companies. And that starts with telecommuting,” said Lapsley.  “What does that mean? Are workers going to be connected to California companies, but working out of state? What does that mean for housing? What does that mean for commuting? What does that mean for real estate?”

The 55-page report examines the future of work in California by the year 2030, as well as economic trends related to automation and job displacement across the state.

“The challenges we all faced in 2020 both fast-tracked the trends shaping the future of work and shifted predictions to current reality,” Commission co-chairs Mary Kay-Henry and James Manyika said in a press release announcing the report. 

The report offers five “moonshot” goals to work towards in the next ten years. 

  • Ensure sure there is a job for everyone willing to work, prioritizing job creation and job access. 
  • Eliminate the poverty faced by nearly 45 percent of Californians living with at least one working family member. 
  • Create a worker benefits model and safety net that meets the upcoming work arrangements of the 21st century.
  • Raise the standard of quality jobs to address the pre-COVID dilemma regarding the plateau in wage growth despite low unemployment rates.
  • Ensure jobs are “future-proofed” in anticipation of economic shocks that could be related to technological or climate-related transformations. 

The report also proposes several initiatives, which include:

  • Creating one million jobs that accelerate the deployment of clean energy.
  • Expanding opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs through education and training programs and procurement. 
  • Extending employment social enterprises to groups who face high barriers to work.
  • Calling on the federal government to follow suit and enact a “Job Guarantee” that incentivizes private-sector job creation. 

Meanwhile, California state government has adapted to the pandemic by implementing a telework policy across most agencies.  Gov. Newsom has called for telework to be permanent cost-savings and efficiency measure.  A new statewide comprehensive telework policy has been developed, according to this year’s state budget proposal, and will presumably be announced.

About the Author: Will Keys

Will Keys writes about technology issues for the GovReport. He is a graduate of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be reached at will at govreport.org