Book Review: The Mosaic Economy by Jennifer Leonard

The Mosaic Economy 003This is a new book–available on Kindle as a pre-publication offering.

Written by a young woman in Boston who has experience teaching
economics classes and associating with young people entering the
workforce in America.  The book has interesting insights into the
state of career paths available to young people today.

With views corroborated through interviews, surveys, and examples,
the book presents a very readable text, and is fair and unbiased in
its commentary.

Young people today can expect to end up in a career unthought of or
unplanned for when in high school or college.  The fast changing
face of the American economy—its recovery from the recession
beginning in 2008, and the general changes worldwide offer a myriad
of opportunities which might not be considered the usual paths for
the next 40 years of one’s life.  No longer does a person start with a
large company, an IBM or a General Electric, work for 45 years and
retire with a gold watch.  Instead, young people must be open and
ready to be flexible, ask themselves what it is exactly they want
from their work and fit in several variables to make a meaningful
workpath.

A musician, unable to support himself with gigs,
opens a coffee shop and makes it a gathering place for other
musicians and impromptu concerts.  (I made that up.)  But
the idea is that in today’s economy, thinking outside that old
box is a necessity

What of the artist who can’t find work?  Maybe she works at a
different occupation and pursues her art as a sideline or after-
work hobby.

Today’s climate is open, changed by the number of entreprenurial
adventures begun.  The computer age has exploded and come back
to earth, but created dozens of threads of work associated with
technology and web design, etc.  A new emphasis on the green
economy,  the sprouting enthusiasm for buying locally, the need
and value of providing community service and other
trends challenge the old ideas of occupations, and provide good
opportunities for those entering the workplace.

Community outreach is becoming more important–and the intermingling
of private sector, public sector and non-profits working together makes
sense for all involved.    This idea needs further development.

There are lots of splinter and part-time jobs today.  People are working
in many different capacities to make a living.  It is truly a mosaic scheme.

But I worry if a mosaic economy is enough to pull the weight of America
for the future.  Ms. Leonard notes: ” The most important question is
whether it is possible for gaps between higher-earning and lower-earning
households to be bridged.  Even if many people feel “stuck” and worried
in the current economy, is it possible to envision ways that individuals,
families, household and communities can find and create opportunities
for sufficient rewarding work and comfortable incomes?”

She notes, in a hopeful way, that the economy has always fluctuated
over the long term—from various levels of economic equality and
inequality.   And I’ll take a crumb of comfort from that, and also
from her solid belief in the American initiative.

All in all, a very readable, timely book.

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