Rob - I think your perception of what "the little ladies" are doing with their time and spending their money on may be a bit out of whack, as usual.
From 1960 to 2012, the average Employment to Population ratio across all OECD countries was 64.2% for 15-64 year olds with a standard deviation of just 1.16 (quite flat). From 2005 to 2008 it was about 65.5 up to 66.5 (highest ever in the period) and then the GFC hit and it dropped down into the 64s but is back in the 65s as of 2012 (no 2013 data available).
For the same group/period, the average Participation Rate was 68.41% with a standard deviation of 1.78 (fairly flat). The GFC had very little impact on this and in fact 2012 is the highest level in the data set at 70.9%.
Again, for the same group/period, the average Unemployment Rate was 6.1% with a standard deviation of 1.66 (fairly flat). The GFC saw increases from 6s up to 8s but 1983 is the highest at about 8.3%. The lates 60s/early70s had the lowest rates.
In other words, things aren't very different across the last 52 years. There are cycles, but in fact the number of people actively working and contributing to the economies of the OECD countries has never been higher both in total numbers and percentages. I don't think it supports your suggestion that technology is putting people out of work, or that your "delicate creatures" are now lamenting their removal from typing pools and into the widest variety of roles that has ever existed with the best opportunities for female employment (quantity and quality) that has ever existed (despite remaining sexism and mysogony!).
Basically, you like things the way they were - you enjoyed your life. That's excellent, really. But it's not the present or the future. You're entitled to your views, but don't be surprised when people call you out not for having them, but for basing them on fallacies.
~In my pocket I have a device that provides me with access to the sum total of human knowledge, and I use it to look at pictures of cats and argue with people I have never met~
Lost in your figures, the differences between steady jobs offering careers, pensions and opportunities for making savings and buying a home, and today's reality of Macjobs, part-time jobs, minimum wage jobs, training-for-work jobs and other figure-fudging fantasies. It used to be done through a now dead device called National Service, where all of those young males between the ages of seventeen and twenty-nine or so, and without a reasonable future in favoured apprenticeships and/or education were simply swept up and dumped into the Forces for a two-year period of grace, thus keepìng many thousands off the streets and off the registers.
We Brits were supposedly known as, and derided for being a nation of shopkeepers; where now the shops? The little family businesses that ran generation through generation have mostly gone; charity shops appear to thrive as shopping streets empty, their main occupants, other than the charities, being Asian operations where families work more hours per day than there are hours per day. Oh - you can still place bets and perhaps buy a drink.
So basically, figures were ever a lie, and the only reality worth knowing is the one before your eyes. I lived in Glasgow and owned my own home. Completely. I would have loved to up and go and try my luck shooting fashion in London. With the faith in myself that if I could make it in Glasgow, where I felt I'd had almost to invent the genre for myself, London would be a piece of cake. One tiny flaw there: my house in Glasgow, nice as it was, would have perhaps - perhaps - raised enough money to buy a garage in Photographic Mecca. I would not do that to my family. So even where things have a surface of calm and ease, there exist tides and currents that don't reveal truths that matter a great deal. Since leaving Glasgow, I discovered that several excellent former clients have vanished, been absorbed by other companies or destroyed by economic reverses. Even national institutions have disappeared.
Come over to Spain, and you'll find entire 'towns' built up and still empty, nothing ever sold; where the workers today from those construction industries? Lost and forgotten, is where. They sure don't work in IT, though they certainly do reflect off the unemployment listings.
I rather believe the world to be in the state that I see
it to be, than believe in the version about which I read
- but as we both agree, that's a personal choice. And as you note, " may be a bit out of whack, as usual."