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“Free” money and job-seeking, one year on

Being busy with my university work over the past two months has meant that finding more work has been largely out of my mind. But even before I came to that busy period, and again now that it is over, I’m not as fussed about looking for work as I was at this time last year.

The COVID-19 pandemic is part of it; I just haven’t seen nearly so many jobs advertised over the past six months, and I haven’t been to any of the events at which I might otherwise have talked about A Little Research. Being committed to half a week at Western Sydney University, often spread over odd hours to cover meetings, also severely restricts what other kinds of jobs I’m available to do. (That my money isn’t actually free is important here: if I didn’t have my university position I might be willing and able to pick up a lot more other kinds of work, even if I still had money equivalent to what I get from the university.)

But I think the main reason is that I just don’t need any more work or money. My current income is more than sufficient to fund my lifestyle, and any other work that I want to do for its own sake I can just do in my spare time. So, while one day per week kept me interested in finding more work in order to pay for holidays, savings, and so on, two and a half days does not.

Apparently not everyone feels the same way. Obviously many people have higher costs than I do, such as families and/or mortgages, necessitating a higher income. The Australian government has been pondering tax cuts so that people with incomes three or four times mine have more spending money. And of course people already working full-time just don’t have much capacity to do more work even if they might like more money.

None of this is to say that I’m not going to do any extra work; only that I can afford to very picky about it. If I have an opportunity to do a small programming or research job that helps someone out and/or gives me some interesting experience, well and good; but I’m not going to comb job boards and slave over résumés merely for the sake of making some extra money. If an opportunity to do work came up at the same time that I have heavy university commitments, it might even be a nuisance.

Economists capture something like this with the “backward bending supply curve of labour”: as wages go up, labourers eventually decide that they have enough money, and the supply of labour consequently goes down. Perhaps I’ve reached the point at which the curve turns backward, at least for me.

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