Tales of Tadeusz

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Hohenwald News: Involuntary Self-Employment

Instapundit has a very interesting article for Lewis Countians & area here in which he discusses the rise again of the cottage industry, and involuntary unemployment to use the NYT's term.

Last week, I wrote about the way changes in technology are sparking a return to "cottage industry," with all sorts of work that used to be done in offices returning to people's homes -- the traditional place for most kinds of work, back before the Industrial Revolution.

Now, as it appears that many jobs cut during the recession
won't be coming back, it also appears that many workers are starting their own businesses, often at home. In fact, quite a few formerly unemployed people are now reporting that they're self-employed. Though an economist quoted by the New York Times discounts this phenomenon as "involuntary entrepreneurship", it seems likely that -- voluntary or otherwise -- we'll see a lot more of this sort of

As Slate's Mickey Kaus notes:
If we're entering a new economic era -- one in which traditional cyclical employers won't start rehiring, . . . isn't it likely, even, that workers will adjust by pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities? And if entrepreneurship is real, what does calling it "involuntary" mean? I might prefer to have a full- fledged "job" at Microsoft, complete with stock options, health insurance, etc. Instead, I'm a freelance contractor. Calling my entrepreneurship "involuntary" might be accurate, but it doesn't mean I'm not working and feeding myself. In the "newer" economy, you'd expect such self-employment to increase, no?

This goes to the point I made in an earlier HN post titled "Opportunities". We can, and indeed have to, generate our own economic growth.


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