I remember going to the shopping mall with my mom when I was younger. At the time there was a recession and all you heard on TV was that the economy was crashing, unemployment was on the rise, and people were struggling.
But when we got to the mall, the parking lot was full of new BMWs and Mercedes. You couldn’t even find a place to park. Inside, the mall was packed. It wasn’t just teenagers hanging out after school. People were shopping — buying designer clothes, jewelry, and expensive consumer electronics.
As we watched people pass with more shopping bags than they could carry, my mom said to me, “No recession in here.”
She was right.
It’s like there were two completely different economies. The one we heard about on TV, and the one we saw that day at the mall.
The same thing is happening again right now.
Economists are warning that we are headed for another recession or even a second great depression.
Even the fancy stores aren’t safe this time. Neiman Marcus could declare bankruptcy this week. They are not alone. Analysts predict that 100,000 more stores will go out of business soon too.
But not all businesses are hurting.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has gotten 24 billion dollars richer since the start of the coronavirus lockdowns.
This “two different economies” phenomenon isn’t limited to retail shopping.
Online meeting software Zoom has seen usage skyrocket from 10 million users per day a few months ago to more than 200 million users per day now.
Meanwhile TechCrunch reports that WeWork, the co-working and office space rental company, has stopped paying rent and that “Commercial real estate could be in trouble, even after COVID-19 is over.”
“Remote work is something we’re thinking a lot about right now,” says Colin Yasukochi, director of research and analysis at the commercial real estate services giant CBRE. “People are right now being forced to do it,” but “I think some will inevitably stick” to working remotely, he says.
None of us can predict the future, but one thing is pretty obvious to anyone who is paying attention:
The companies that are able to take advantage of technology and make money online are the ones that will survive.
But what has all this got to do with you?
Well, the same rule applies to people…
Over the past few weeks, more than 22 million people in America have filed for unemployment (the previous record high for a single week was about 670,000 people)!
Yet those of us who work online are mostly unaffected. Even if offices are closed, we can work from home just about anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
You might think that these are all just short-term effects of the coronavirus crisis, but they are actually part of a much bigger trend that’s been going on for years.
In his 2013 book, Average is Over, Tyler Cowen wrote the following:
Lacking the right training means being shut out of opportunities like never before…workers will come to be classified into two categories… The key questions will be: Are you good at working with intelligent machines or not? Are your skills a complement to the skills of the computer, or is the computer doing better without you?
If you and your skills are a complement to the computer, your wage and labor market prospects are likely to be cheery. If your skills do not complement the computer, you may want to address that mismatch. Ever more people are starting to fall on one side of the divide or the other. That’s why average is over.
The bottom line is this: If you’re not taking advantage of technology and the internet to earn your living, sooner or later you’re going to get left behind.
What if you never had to go to work again?
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