The first book I summarized on Four Minute Books was called “The End of Jobs.” It talked about population growth outpacing job availability, about the inflationary presence of college degrees, and about the ubiquity of mass layoffs.
Seven years later, Taylor Pearson’s message rings louder than ever — and not just in my ears. In the last two months alone, Google, Meta, Microsoft, and Amazon each have fired more than 10,000 workers. On a 12-month rolling basis, tech companies have laid off over 200,000 people, and they’re not the only industry cutting expenses.
What we’re seeing, have been seeing for a decade or more, really, is not so much the end of jobs themselves, but the end of job security.
I remember reading about someone’s first day at Audi several years back: “Welcome to 50 years of job security,” the CEO would say. I bet even in the German car industry, which is considered as safe as it gets, they don’t make those kind of statements anymore.
My dad has been at the same company for almost 30 years. I wouldn’t even know where to begin looking for a job like that. All I know are deals, one-offs, and, at best, partnerships which usually rest on thin ice. Then again, the media industry is notoriously fickle, and glue, the thing my dad’s company makes, is, well, sticky. Perhaps, there’s something to be said about products people will always need.
Every now and then, however, the dangerous thing becomes the safe thing and vice versa. When you announce you’ll be an entrepreneur, everyone will warn you of the risks. “You’ll have to fight tooth and nail for every penny!” That’s true, of course, but once you’ve managed to get some pennies flying into your pockets from various sources, suddenly, your income is more resilient than the cushy corporate salary, whose cash and stock options both come out of the same feeding hand, a hand that might, from one day to the next, withdraw.
This post is not a call to be an entrepreneur. It’s a reminder that, no matter what you do for a living, sometimes, it’ll be hard. And sometimes, “sometimes” lasts more than just some time.
There is, however, the other side Pearson presented in The End of Jobs: Technology is at an all-time high. Software costs are lowering by the minute. Where you combine creativity, shrewdness, and the near-universal tools available to you, there are spoils to be had. They’re not always the spoils that buy you an island, but they just might be enough to keep you calm and afloat while everyone else is scrambling for a lifeboat.
This is the end of job security. Where do we go from here? For the world at large, only time will tell, but for you, I hope that by the time we find out, you’ll long have charted your own path.