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Episode 200: The Impact of the "Pandemic Exodus" on Jobs and Earnings with Economist Michael Madowitz

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Episode Description

In this milestone 200th episode, Carol speaks with Michael Madowitz, an economist for the Center for American Progress whose work includes a focus on labor markets and household budgeting at different life stages. Note: this episode was recorded in June 2021 and commentary is based on that point in time. Michael discusses the full cost of career breaks taken due to the pandemic (it's way more than forgone salary alone), how this may impact relaunchers going forward, the “silver lining” as to how career breaks may be perceived post-Covid, and the trends he’s seen so far in the economic recovery.  Relaunchers and relaunchers-to-be should also listen to Episode 60 to hear Michael discuss the CAP Calculator he created, and which he used in a recent Newsweek article to estimate lost income to a woman who left the workforce during Covid. 

Helpful note when listening to this episode: Economists' definition of "Unemployed" is "did not work for pay or profit in the last week and actively looked for work in the past four weeks."

Follow Michael at: 

Twitter: @mikemadowitz

Read Transcript

Carol Fishman Cohen: Welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch, the podcast where we discuss strategies, advice, and success stories about returning to work after a career break. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO, and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. It's hard to believe, but we launched this podcast five years ago and this is our 200th podcast episode.

We're so glad you can join us for this milestone moment and want to thank you for being a listener. We look forward to bringing you many more episodes and hope you find the information as helpful and inspirational as we do. Today, we welcome Michael Madowitz, economist for the Center for American Progress, whose work has focused on labor markets, financial markets, tax policy, household budgeting in different phases of life, and a variety of environmental economics topics. Most relevant for relaunchers and relaunchers to be, he is the creator of the Cap Calculator, which enables people to estimate the cost of their career break. Michael was recently featured in Newsweek using the Cap Calculator to estimate lost income to a woman who left the workforce during COVID, and we're going to talk about that today. We were fortunate to have Michael join us previously in Episode #60, in which he spoke in more detail about the Cap Calculator. So for those of you interested in those details, please listen to that episode.

Today, we're going to be speaking with Michael about the numbers behind the lost jobs and lost income that have resulted from the pandemic, how this may impact relaunchers going forward, and what he's seeing in the economic recovery.

Michael, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.

Michael Madowitz: Thanks for having me back.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Well, we're thrilled to have you back and you're working on such pertinent and relevant economic analysis for what's going on in our world today, so really a privilege for us. I want to start by going through some definitions and defining for our listeners the difference between some of these numbers we hear out there.

So for example, we're hearing about people being unemployed during the pandemic. And we're hearing about people withdrawing from the labor force during the pandemic. We'll talk later about the numbers of people who were impacted during the pandemic. But just the definition itself, can you talk to us a little bit about unemployed versus leaving the labor force?

Michael Madowitz: Yeah, I love talking about definitions of statistics probably a lot more than I should. But I think actually, this has become less nerdy and actually relevant in the last year or so. So the sort of very straightforward version of this is, you are in the labor force if you are working or if you are currently looking for work, which we define statistically in the US as having looked for jobs within the last two weeks.

You would be withdrawn from the labor force if you have not looked for a job within the last two weeks, whether that's because you are in school, taking care of a child, maybe your job ended and you are taking a few minutes to compose yourself before you look more strategically. All of that qualifies as being out of the workforce.

And I think historically we tend to think of these as not having colossal flows between them, right? So we expect people to flow between employment and unemployment because a job might go away and the reason people have historically talked about the unemployment rate, the sort of intuition is, you are working, you're still in the labor force, you're looking for a job, you're the most likely people to be finding jobs. And I think that sort of evolves from probably back to the sixties when we were first thinking about this pretty seriously. I know, especially over the last couple of years of recovery and certainly over the last year or so, that's been very untrue. We know lots of people have been flowing from out of the labor force into jobs. So, withdrawn from the labor force, I feel like it speaks less about what the hiring pool looks like than it does about what people are actually doing when they're out of work, if that makes sense.

Carol Fishman Cohen: All right. So, let's look at some actual numbers though. And then, maybe that'll illustrate it even more because part of what I'm trying to understand is, is there overlap between these two populations? So let's just go to some of the numbers that we've seen in terms of what happened at the peak of the recession of the pandemic.

And we'll talk about the nuances and what happened during this recession versus past recessions. But I heard that there was a number like 10 million people lost their jobs. Ten million people lost their jobs during the pandemic. And it was broken down to, I think, a little over 5 million women, a little over 4 million men.

So I heard that number, but then I also heard this number that about 3.6 million people left the labor force and that was almost evenly divided between 1.8 million women and 1.8 million men. So the first question I have, is there overlap between those two numbers?

Michael Madowitz: Yeah, so very much so. In normal times that overlap, I think the overlap now is maybe a little more complicated, but a little more important. And I think it's also, usually parsing these numbers out month to month is an exercise in insignificance, because what looks like a big deal one month, isn't a big deal the next month.

But, I think talking about any of these, when we're talking about, if I look at the employment level for women, so the number of women who have a job. That number fell by 13.4 million in the first two months of the recession. And then it rebounded by more than half in the next three months, and then it's been gradually inching back now.

So the number of employed women is now about 3.3 million below where it was. What happens to those women when they're not employed is they are either going to be classified as unemployed or not in the labor force. And, when we go and look at the labor force numbers, we see that a very large fraction of people have gone from, not the traditional, "Oh, I had a job and I lost it and now I'm looking for another job," which, as many of us are aware, that's not really how life always works if you're dealing with a bunch of competing demands, and especially not how it's worked in the last year. And so, you would expect a lot more people than usual to be going from not just employed to unemployed, but to employed and out of the labor force.

Now, one other important distinction here is, I think the strict definition of employed is "worked for pay or profit in the last two weeks." And I feel like a lot of us are doing a lot of work that is not for pay or profit right now. It's mostly keeping our households above water and that work doesn't show up in these numbers.

And so, you can imagine there's a great deal of labor that's not showing up in, not only unemployment, but even in the labor force in these numbers, particularly over the last year or so.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah. Well, that gets into the whole question for people who are supporting households and keeping them going, is there a compensation that's attached to that? And then would it ultimately be somehow considered officially as employment? But we're not going to go there right now. That's a whole separate discussion.

But there are a few things that were going through my mind when you were talking, one of them is this idea that these surveys are done in two week increments. It takes a long time to find a job. Sometimes it can take six months, a year, three years. The idea that people are moving in and out of the workforce in some frequency, I guess maybe this is obvious, it's not the same people. It's like a net group of people moving in and out because it could be many of our relaunchers who are listening might think, "Well, you know, I've been looking for like a year."

Michael Madowitz: Yeah, I think there is some data on people who have been classified as unemployed for a certain number of weeks that they report out on this, and that has a lot more to do with how our unemployment insurance system works than anything else. But I think you're totally right in terms of, we're doing the survey once a month, it's a snapshot in time. It's saying this many people seem to be employed, this many people are not employed but looking for work, and this many people are not employed and not actively looking for work.

And I think there are even some questions that they've added over the last year about, are you not employed, or not looking for work, or scaling back your hours, or a bunch of other things because of various COVID things. But beneath all those snapshots are, the way the surveys are done is we're repeatedly interviewing people over, I believe it's four months in, then four months out, then four months in again. And if you get into the sort of underlying data of all this, people are cycling in and out of jobs much more quickly than it appears, especially in this recovery right now. So, one of the questions people have been asking a lot over the last, I'd say two or three months, is we keep seeing these really high numbers of people applying for unemployment benefits. And that doesn't make sense because we've been adding all these jobs and when you go into the numbers a little more it's a lot of people seem to be getting jobs for a few weeks and then things don't seem to be working out.

We call these frictions, because we like to have a name for everything in economics. But normally you'd expect that not every job is going to work out for everybody. I believe I've had a few of these in my teen years where it was like, "Oh yeah, it turns out I'm not going to sell cars particularly well for the rest of my life, that was a great two day experience," or whatever. But if for those two days I was surveyed then I would be counted as employed. So we do seem to be seeing a lot of people who are trying jobs and they're not working out. And I feel like that's a lot less of the, "This isn't my life calling" than "I can't possibly make this work right now." Cause as you might guess, the people who are getting newly hired into jobs are not getting newly hired in jobs with the best of the benefits in terms of accommodating unusual schooling situations and things like that.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And we're going to get into that in a minute, but, one more detail related to the definitions. So if someone has withdrawn from the workforce, because we're hearing a lot of discussion about how people are managing zoom schools, and daycares and everything shut down, just can't make it work by supporting their full-time jobs, committing themselves to those at the same time. When we say people remove themselves from the labor force, are most of them doing that as an intentional choice, like they elected to do it, or are some of them laid off and then they count in that group too, if they don't immediately go looking for another job?

Michael Madowitz: Yeah. It's a mix of both. I think what we're seeing right now is still, we are in June of 2021 as we're taping this, I think we're seeing people who are going from employed to unemployed more often. But a lot of people who are going from, or a lot of people who are getting hired, are coming out of the withdrawn from the labor force.

It's much less of a strict title than you might think it would be. Typically it would mean people who are not actively looking. But it turns out you can do a lot of casual looking while you're doing zoom school. And I think, there's probably some aspect of people not necessarily reporting whether or not they could start a job in a week or two. They're still at least looking at what's going on.

I think what a lot of us are doing right now is some hybrid of withdrawn from the labor force and unemployed. Or even in some cases, I think one of the things that gets missed in a lot of these debates, I think we're all very focused on the fact that we are something like 7 or 8 million jobs short of where we were a year ago, or I guess not a year ago, more than a year ago, but before the recession.

And so I think the total number of jobs is the headline thing.

But, I think a lot of people are probably also doing the thing where they have had to throttle back at work, which is a good point to be thinking about relaunching, if you have been trying to make the 20 million other things that we all have to do anyway, and that the webs of care support that we may have built over the last couple of years have kind of disappeared. I think a lot of people who are still counting even as employed are not as at work as they would be both in terms of the number of hours and in terms of their total focus.

And so when we're looking at numbers that say, these are the number of people that are out of the workforce, that's probably underestimating the extent to which people are in need of doing a more serious relaunch at some point in the next year or two to get through all of this.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay. And that really leads me to my next question, because I'm speculating that people who elected to leave the workforce during COVID because there was just too much going on and they had to manage a lot more at home when support systems like daycare centers and schools shut down, or went virtual, that they're not going to come back as fast as everyone is predicting.

And one of the reasons I'm saying that is when we speak even pre COVID, typically when we would talk to relaunchers and, we have over 90,000 relaunchers in our community, people will invariably say, "I only thought I was going to be out for a year or two, and the next thing I knew five years had gone by." Because once you're out, when things happen and that could be like, maybe things get steadied on the childcare side, and then all of a sudden you have an elder care situation and you're the one who's already home. Then you're the one who tends to then get saddled with that responsibility. So I just wanted to know if you had any thoughts about, how long do you think these career breaks might be for people who leave for family reasons? And whether you think that mental health fallout or other issues related to COVID are going to impact the amount of time they stay out of the workforce?

Michael Madowitz: Yeah. That's a fantastic question. And I think that's one of those ones where we actually have a little bit of data on this that we wouldn't, because we have this other survey that the Census Bureau has been doing for, I think since about March or April of last year, it's called the Household Pulse Survey. If you're really excited, you can Google this. But it's this really cool thing, which I have even been a part of, which makes it even cooler.

But basically, if you're part of it, you get a text message that says, "Hi, this is the Census Bureau, and we're really curious about..." like all these things. And if you're an economist, you respond to that text in a heartbeat. I don't know if everybody does that. But among the things they've asked are a lot of things that are very COVID specific: Are you teleworking? Are your kids in remote school? Are you getting unemployment insurance? Are you getting enough to eat because of the various food benefits they've added on? And they've also added some mental health measures. And I've done some work with the co-author, and some of it suggests that a lot of these stimulus checks seem to have had some really significant mental health benefits.

So we can say more than we normally would about that. But I think to pull back for a second and nerd out less on the survey point is that, I think withdrawn from labor force, as anyone who's used to this can probably tell you, is probably not a great description of where people are coming from when they're trying to figure out how to get back in.

And my hope is that because this year has involved so much more coordination, and I don't like the bootstrap terminology, but sometimes we use bootstrapping in statistical terms because the only thing you can do is to bootstrap up from what you've got available. I think there's been a lot of that this year. So I'm somewhat optimistic that there may actually be more margin for how great this turns out to be. There may be margin for people to recover, which there should be because there are so many more people who are out right now.

But we, I, all of us have been juggling various things and figuring out how to make, how to craft something that'll hold up for another few months or whatever. I do think, once you become the defaults in your household, it's very hard to push back. And I think it's really important to keep a long-term perspective for that reason. Just to say, “Look, we just went through this crazy recession where all the people that no one thought were going to get laid off, lots of them got laid off. And so, having a long-term plan, it’s really useful for our household stability to not have all of our income come from one source and to take some of that volatility out.” I think that's important for households in general, but I think it's probably even more important for households to be thinking about that now, going forward in terms of, if you're running your household like a company, which I think many of us have been forced into in the last year, thinking about the long-term plan is really important.

And if you are doing a bunch of care work right now, but you can see that hopefully in September you will be doing less, to be able to say that, "Okay, so by September, it's really important that we diversify the work that we're planning on me doing so that it involves a lot more work for pay and profit, in the Bureau of Labor Statistics terminology, and less of the kind of conditional, "I will be the backstop work," is I think really important for getting not just people, but households, on the right financial footing going forward.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah. You know what you're saying, we heard this during the last recession too, even though it was very different from this one, the 2008 recession where relaunchers were reporting that they were being propelled back into the workforce sooner than anticipated because if they had a spouse or partner, and that spouse or partner's employment situation was suddenly unstable in some way, or maybe they lost their job, they are saying exactly what you are saying. "We're not going to be dependent on one employer anymore. So we both need to be looking for jobs and working and be less vulnerable in that way."

Interesting. Maybe that's fundamental to coming out of recessions in general, even though this recession is different.

Michael Madowitz: Yeah. I mean, I think households are weird like this, right? It's always like a mix of, there's the life that you would want in a perfect world with infinite dollars, which is, I would probably spend three hours a day doing really interesting economics and a lot of time hanging out with my kids, and maybe I would develop some woodworking hobby or something.

And then there's the thing you have to do when you have mortgages and kids to feed and stuff, and how was I supposed to do all of those things? I think one thing, there's a certain pragmatism about it, but I think one of the obvious things that you get to once you have, I think particularly for when you have parents who both have a fair amount invested in their education and their careers, once have all that invested, it makes a lot of sense to make sure that you're keeping both of those careers in play, especially from a risk point of view.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And actually, that is a perfect time to ask this question about the Cap Calculator. We've already talked about it in detail in our earlier episode, but your work was recently highlighted in this Newsweek article where they asked you to use the calculator to estimate the lost income of a woman who left during COVID because daycare and schools closed, including compounding, and savings assumptions, social security, and everything that's built into your Cap Calculators. So can you talk about, did you make any tweaks to the Cap Calculator because of anything that happened during COVID? And can you give us a brief synopsis of what you reported back to Newsweek when you did this work?

Michael Madowitz: Yeah, so I guess in terms of the underlying code, I don't think we did do anything major to it. So the whole thing is built out of about a forty year study of people who were between 14 and 16. And I believe it's 1979 and it's followed that cohort for a really long time. And so we've been able to see what wage growth looks like for them, what their current progressions look like.

And, we used all that data to build the thing in the first place. I looked into updating that, and it turns out that most people's career progressions have stayed more or less the same since then.

So I think the only major difference is, when you're building a tool that goes on the internet that's trying to get people to engage with the topic who might not be super excited about it, you make some assumptions to make the problem easier. One of the assumptions we made to make our problem easier was, we assumed everybody would be retired for fifteen years. And the correct version of this from a really wonky point of view is to say, "How many years do you expect to be retired?" Which basically means you're asking people, "When do you expect to retire, and when do you expect to die?" And, if you were trying to get people to engage with something they might be a little intimidated with in the first place, the question of, "When do you expect to die" is not first on your list.

So, we just de facto assume everyone is going to live on fifteen years of retirement income. And in talking to the people who are doing some of the Newsweek side, they thought a fifteen year retirement was probably a bit pessimistic, which I think is probably fair. So we did a twenty year retirement period.

I think that's the only major change. And then we had a few updates to look at, who's been getting laid off in this recession and they asked us to come with a composite number. So we did that by saying, we think this many people got laid off who are in this age group and this age group and what the sort of wage structure for those jobs looked like.

So it was an interesting exercise, but I don't think it was a particularly huge departure from what you could just go in and try yourself.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Michael, can you talk to us specifically about, I know they had a hypothetical woman who left during COVID, and can you tell us what the calculator showed in terms of her lost income and all the things that are part of that, and what assumption you made in terms of how long she was going to be out of the workforce?

Michael Madowitz: Yeah. So they actually had us run a few of these because we went back and forth on this a little, and I think the correct answer was, nobody knows exactly how long the average person is going to be out of work for this.

I think the scenarios we looked at were just using the median salary for a 30 year old woman, the median salary for a 30 year old college educated woman, and a high earner salary. And, these are all assuming there'd be some employee contributions to an IRA, but we did it without an employer match to be conservative.

So these may be a little bit understating, but the short version is the median salary for a 30 year old female is about $47,000. And so lifetime losses, if you're out for one year making $47,000 are about $136,000. If you're out two years, it rises to $263,000. And if you're out up to five years, which I guess is a scenario that McKinsey was really quite worried about, then you'd be looking at a $600,000 loss, assuming you were making $47,000. Those numbers go up a lot as salaries go up. So for a college educated woman, making the median salary at 30 years old, you would lose $178,000 just missing one year of work, and $345,000 missing two years of work.

And then the high earner numbers are just scary to me. One year costs you $273,000. Two years costs you $529,000 and five years would cost you $1.2 million. This is the high earner salary, right? There are by definition lots of people who are 30 years old and not making a hundred thousand dollars, but people are also making more than that.

Sorry, those numbers were based on a hundred thousand dollars, the $275K, $530K and $1.2 million.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah, so let's just drill down on that for a minute for our listeners. When you're saying the salary is one amount, but the total losses for that year are a much bigger number. That's because you're making assumptions in terms of, you make that money, and some of it gets saved and you get social security and there are other pieces. And then you take, in finance parlance, a "net present value of all those future income streams." And that gives you that number of what it's worth today.

Michael Madowitz: Yeah, and I think although the numbers are gratuitous, maybe we'll talk about the $100,000 salary because none of us are great at division, even the economists on this.

So I think the most straightforward way to talk about this is, if you are looking at the one-year version of that, so you're making $100,000, you take a year off, our calculator says it's going to cost you $273,000 in lifetime income. So the first hundred thousand is the easiest to figure out. It's $100,00 you don't make in the year that you're not working.

And then the next, most obvious thing that I think, especially your audience is going to be familiar with as well, you were making retirement contributions. We're talking about retirement contributions when you're 30 years old. So there was a lot of compound growth there. And so missing those costs you a lot, it's something on the order of $75,000 for that.

But I think the one that we did that I think people are not used to thinking about is, there tends to be slower wage growth for people who've had a year out of the workforce for a year or more. And we show that the difference between the wage growth you'd have without a career break and the wage growth you have with a career break accounts for about a third of the $275,000 total. So it is this kind of slower growth trajectory. And, honestly, if I'm saying, if there's one thing in this particular article that I'm hoping is wrong, it's definitely the wage growth penalty, because if you think about it, typically that tends to reflect some kind of statistical discrimination or something where people who take time off are penalized with fewer opportunities. And, if ever there were a time where an employer could benefit from recognizing that there were extraordinary circumstances this year and that people who'd had a year off were in fact highly productive and worth compensating at the levels they probably should be, this kind of seems like the test case for it.

And I'm really hoping that number turns out to be too pessimistic.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah. You know, you're hitting on the central mission of our company, iRelaunch, because our company's mission has always been based on this idea that when people leave the workforce, they're leaving for reasons that have nothing to do with their work performance and they don't lose their abilities to do great work simply because they take a career break.

So we're really trying to change that whole picture. And we're seeing more and more companies return to work programs, formal programs to give transitional support to bring people back as they're relaunching. So hopefully that's moving in the right direction and that will also have an impact.

Michael Madowitz: Yeah. I think actually one of the silver linings of this year is, I think everyone who's taken a career break knows what it entails and that it is not, that the term “break” is probably a bit misleading. Whereas, if you talk to the median person in Silicon Valley, circa 2019, when they talked about career breaks in their thirties, it was "Yeah, I'm going to build a really cool van and go see the world and find myself" or whatever.

And I think as of this year, very few people understand that's what a career break meant in 2020. I think a career break in 2020 was significantly harder than a lot of careers. And I think, the one plus side of having this happen to 20 million people at the same time is, there's not this, "Oh, so tell me about this hole in your resume that happened in 2020."

I think, if there's a hole in a resume in 2020, most of us know what was going on there. So I'm optimistic, I think one of the things that you guys have done that is really innovative and really smart is we talk all the time about how you put a credential to a skill that people are picking up where the credential can be easily communicated to someone who's not super familiar. And therefore you can create a lot of value by signaling to employers, this is what this means. And I think the relaunch platform does that really well because when we say career break, we mean this happened and we were doing these things, which were not "Martiniville," they were lots of other work, lots of other executive responsibilities. And now, if there's enough bandwidth to move back to a traditional job focus, we still have all those skills, and this is a way to demonstrate that.

I don't hope this year puts you guys out of business, but I hope this year provides another way for people to communicate. That is one of the things that happens when lots of things fall apart is you can have a great deal of work being done and a great deal of really high level, the kind of competent coordinating executive work you'd be looking for in senior management type stuff. A lot of that work can happen in a way that's totally unrecognized and totally didn't show up on a resume. Like I say, to the extent that an economist can be an optimist, I'm really optimistic that's going to be one of the things that gets through this year, is people recognizing that a lot of that scale that gets done outside of the workplace.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Well, if I can add to your optimism, we are having our busiest year ever. And there's more and more interest among companies to create formal return to work programs, to bring people back. About a third of the Fortune 50 has had these programs now, but less than 10% of the Fortune 500 do. So we're seeing a lot of growth there and we're seeing brand new growth in the public sector.

For example, the State of Utah just announced the very first state-based returnship program. So all of this to us points to more and more recognition that these programs not only are needed, but they're really effective in bringing back high caliber employees into the workforce. So lots and lots of activity going on at iRelaunch, and I'm very excited about it and the prospects.

Michael, can we shift to talking about the future? We talked a little bit about this recession, which was very different from prior recessions because it was pandemic induced and it was very weirdly sector specific, where some sectors were just growing at unprecedented rates and others were completely decimated.

And I wanted to know how you're looking at the recovery, if you see a broadening now, it feels to me like it's broadening. And just what your thoughts are about that and how it will impact the labor markets?

Michael Madowitz: Yeah. I think it's not just that it's broadening, but it's that you had this unbelievably unequal recovery for most of the last year where some sectors were doing really well, and some sectors weren't recovering at all. And a lot of that is really reversing right now in a way that you might anticipate that's how things would work, that things would get closer to normal, if you will. Normal is a very weird concept these days. But, you might anticipate that, but I think we were all worried that, "Oh, so we did have all these service jobs go away." And the number of pieces I read that frustrated me were people talking about how this is going to be, we're going to this brand new paradigm, where everyone's going to go live in a ski town or a beach town, and then there will be no other jobs. I felt like there were an unusually large number of those articles coming from the type of people who would have built a really cool van and gone and seen the world.

And, I have to say, as I was reading those, I was like, "Oh man, if I could go relocate right now, I would definitely go relocate to grandparents or some other family members who could share some care responsibilities." And that perspective was kind of missing. But yeah, for example, we did lose a ton of childcare jobs. Those are starting to come back, but I think we lost more than a third of childcare workers at some point. I think we're down to about a 10% loss of childcare workers. And we know that that sector has been recovering really quickly the last few months, even with all the restrictions that are still, frankly, somewhat necessary because we don't have a vaccine for kids yet.

I think this is one of those deals where we are starting to see the economy return a lot more to normal than people were predicting. And I think that has a lot to do with, we're seeing all the companies that were very excited about not paying rent on offices, being like, "Oh wait, it's actually a really good for people to have offices because when you're in an office, you can actually do your job and people aren't busting through the door every 30 seconds asking for snacks," hypothetically speaking.

We've been through this whole podcast without anybody asking me for Goldfish, I'm excited about that. Yeah, I have jinxed us now. But yeah, I think it's reassuring to see that because I think we got this in the last recession too, where you have sectors that don't recover quickly immediately. And I think a lot of the present tension goes straight to, "Aha, this is the huge big shift that's going on in our economy, and all of these jobs are destined for the past and they're never coming back." And, historically that is always a bit overblown, but I think right now, we're seeing what I think is good news. Because, there are lots of these very important service jobs that I think are not only coming back, but I think, people are recognizing the value in a lot of these jobs. And that's creating a lot more enthusiasm for making these better jobs than they were.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Very interesting. So Michael, we are out of time now unfortunately, but I want to ask you the question we ask all of our podcast guests, and that is what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience, even if it's something we've already talked about today?

Michael Madowitz: Yeah. I struggle with this because I'm an economist who's married to a mathematician, and so, we are maybe a little more bloodless about a lot of really important life decisions than other people are comfortable with. But thinking through careers and all the family care responsibilities that we all knew existed already, but now really know exist, thinking about all these in a very long-term perspective is really important.

And, how you think about long-term, how you diversify your income risk across multiple careers, how you make sure you're getting the return on the investment in your education that you've made already, and the career you've built up, I think these things are going to be really important. And I think that's also one reason that the kind of tech bro fantasy of, "I'm going to go move to Vail and just do my job there." I think that's one of those conversations that has been really missing that perspective, where you know that many couples that are in a position to do remote work are two career couples, even if they're not currently two income couples.

And figuring out how to navigate the opportunities and the challenges presented by what may be a more remote work friendly environment, that's going to be a really interesting challenge for a lot of households going forward. I guess my advice to the extent that economists give advice, which is usually on two hands where we under cut ourselves, my advice for that is to think really hard about, "If we are going to move to community X, because we can, is that a long-term move that's going to benefit both of our careers and do some income risk hedging and stuff as well? And are we doing a job of accounting for everything that doesn't just show up in a paycheck and a rent check in that process?" Because I think a lot of the discussion around that has been very focused on really simplistic measures of what all households deal with, which is a lot more than shows up in pretty straight forward discussions like that.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Michael, once again, a fascinating conversation, and I want to close out by asking for our listeners, how can our listeners find out more about your work?

Michael Madowitz: You should always see what the Center for American Progress, which is is up to. We do lots of interesting work across a lot of teams.

We have a women's initiative that has lots of work on, I believe right now we're about to do a seminar on women's labor market recoveries in the pandemic. We have an early childhood education team that does a lot of work on early childhood, childcare costs and how to build a more supportive response there.

And then we have an economics team where I have mostly centered, you can find my Twitter stuff, which is some mix of all of these things and random thoughts at, I believe it's Mike Madowitz, M A D O W I T Z. And then we have our calculator, which I think some people would find interesting to play around with, which is,

Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay. we'll put some of those links in the podcast notes too. Thank you.

Michael Madowitz: That seems like a much better way to communicate those.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Well I'm glad you also talked about them here and thank you so much for joining us.

Michael Madowitz: Yeah, thank you for having me. It's always fun talking about this.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And thanks for listening to 3,2,1 iRelaunch, the podcast where we discuss strategies, advice, and success stories about returning to work after a career break. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. For more information on iRelaunch conferences and events, to sign up for a job board and access our return to work tools and resources, go to

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