The Great Decoupling is a term some economists use to describe the economic decoupling of productivity, wages, jobs and GDP growth.
These 4 factors used to move more or less in unison. But as the chart below shows, starting around 2000 the growth in labor productivity "decoupled" from job growth.
But the decoupling is even broader. As the hard-to-read (sorry) chart below shows, labor productivity and GDP growth has also decoupled from median household income (it's the bottom line starting about 1990).
In other words, a growing economy and increases in labor productivity are no longer leading to as many new jobs or as much wage growth as in the past.
So what's causing this?
As with most things, economists disagree and some claim decoupling isn't even happening.
But the most accepted explanation is a combination of automation and outsourcing are the causes. PBS Newshour's Will your job exist in the future, or will a robot have replaced you covers this point of view and the related debate.
We believe decoupling is happening and we tend to side with the view that automation and outsourcing are the main causes.
We also think decoupling is increasing economic uncertainty and leading to the growing polarization of jobs (the trend towards job growth becoming concentrated at the high and low wage ends of the job spectrum).
All of these shifts are making traditional employment harder to find, less rewarding and less secure - which is leading to more people pursuing full and part-time self-employment.
For more on this topic, see The Great Decoupling of the U.S. Economy on MIT economist Andrew McAfee's blog.