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Is There a New Normal for the Job Market?

By Brian Withers and Toby Bordelon – Oct 2, 2021 at 9:15AM

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Employment looks different these days.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape of the job market. While some people shifted to at-home employment, or traded their full-time job for contract or freelance work, others left the job market altogether.

In this video from "The 5" on Motley Fool Live, recorded on Sept. 23, Motley Fool contributors Brian Withers and Toby Bordelon explore two important questions: When will things get back to normal, and what might that look like?

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Brian Withers: I wanted to talk about when does things get normal again? Is there a new normal? Toby, what do you think?

Toby Bordelon: Well, I don't think it's ever going to get back to what we think is normal. Because it's never normal. There's no normal job market. That's my opinion. [laughs] But I think the job market is a function of what's going on in society and how we're structuring it. We've always seen that. Job market 10 years ago, you mentioned women moving into the workforce. We saw that increase. That was just a very different society than a society where more women stayed home and didn't enter the job market. Those job markets are not the same normal, right?

Withers: Right.

Bordelon: People want to say where we were in the last decade before the pandemic, that was normal. But that's just what the job market looked like at that time. It's not what it looked like in the '80s, it's not what it looks like in the '50s, certainly not what it looked like in pre-industrial revolution U.S. or Europe. Think about that. What was that job market where most people were working in agrarian on a farm, in rural areas?

There's no normal. It's just how we're living in a particular moment in time and I think post-pandemic is not going to be pre-pandemic, we've got to just accept that. This was a fundamental shift, I think in just thinking and these new technologies coming into place with Zoom, with work-from-home, with people accepting more remote work. That's a different society if we head in that direction. And the workforce looks different with that setup. It may take us a few years or longer to get to what will be our new normal post-pandemic. I'm not even sure we really understand what that's going to look like. I have some ideas but I'm not willing to say this is what it's going to be because I don't know how people are going to want to do things, how things are going to shake out, so normal, it will be different.

Toby Bordelon has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Zoom Video Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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