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Economic Analysis Apr 20, 2015

Profiles of Change: Employment, Earnings, and Occupations from 1990-2013

There has been tremendous focus in recent years on the plight of the typical American worker. In this economic analysis, The Hamilton Project takes a careful look at the data to examine what has been happening to America’s workers since 1990, paying particular interest to differences across workers with different levels of education. In addition, an accompanying interactive feature allows users to further explore these eight profiles by comparing employment, occupational, and earnings patterns between 1990 and 2013.

Economic Analysis Mar 30, 2015

Increasing Education: What it Will and Will Not Do for Earnings and Earnings Inequality

Scholars and public commentators have recently debated the impact of education on earnings and earnings inequality. Some have argued that improving education is not the sole solution to inequality. In this economic analysis, Brad Hershbein, Melissa Kearney and Lawrence H. Summers clarify the different elemnts of the public debate and note explicitly that these positions are not necessarily at odds.

Economic Analysis Nov 20, 2014

Major Decisions: Graduates’ Earnings Growth and Debt Repayment

In a new interactive feature and economic analysis, The Hamilton Project explores how the current student loan repayment system often creates a heavy burden on recent graduates by having them make payments in the beginning of their careers when their earnings are low. The accompanying interactive feature allows users to calculate the share of earnings necessary to service traditional loan repayment for 80 college majors.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Providing Disadvantaged Workers with Skills to Succeed in the Labor Market

In this policy memo, Sheena McConnell, Irma Perez-Johnson, and Jillian Berk offer proposals to help disadvantaged adult workers with the skills necessary to succeed in the labor market. The authors call for an increase in funding in the Workforce Investment Act Adult program. They also propose a series of four steps that state and local workforce boards can take to better assist disadvantaged adult workers in obtaining skills. This proposal is chapter nine of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Building Skills.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Improving Employment Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students

In this policy memo, Harry J. Holzer proposes the creation of financial incentives for public colleges and university systems to offer classes in high-return fields and for employers to offer more training to their employees. This proposal, targeted at disadvantaged youth who have some academic preparation for higher education, aims to generate better labor market outcomes and wage gains. This proposal is chapter eight of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Building Skills.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Expanding Apprenticeship Opportunities in the United States

In this policy memo, Robert I. Lerman proposes a series of targeted federal and state-level initiatives to expand access to registered apprenticeship programs by creating marketing initiatives, building on existing youth apprenticeship programs, extending the use of federal subsidies, and designating occupational standards. This proposal, targeted toward at-risk youth and middle-skill adults in low-wage jobs, aims to improve human capital and raise earnings for apprentices. This proposal is chapter seven of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Building Skills.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Addressing the Academic Barriers to Higher Education

In this policy memo, Bridget Terry Long proposes that school districts, community colleges, university systems, and state and federal governments reform the college remediation system by improving placement in remediation classes, providing better remediation services, and adopting measures to prevent the need for remediation. This proposal, targeted at disadvantaged, academically underprepared students in high school and college, aims to reduce the need for college-level remediation and to better match underprepared students with effective resources to equip them with the skills they need to succeed in college and in the workforce. This proposal is chapter six of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Supporting Disadvantaged Youth.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Designing Effective Mentoring Programs for Disadvantaged Youth

In this policy memo, Phillip B. Levine proposes that nongovernmental organizations—including nonprofits, foundations, and charitable organizations—as well as private-sector entities expand community-based mentoring programs, such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, in accordance with a set of best practices. This proposal, targeted at disadvantaged youth who have few or no adult role models in their lives, aims to improve educational and labor market outcomes for disadvantaged youth. This proposal is chapter four of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Supporting Disadvantaged Youth.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Expanding Preschool Access for Disadvantaged Children

In this policy memo, Elizabeth U. Cascio and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach propose a framework for state and local governments calling for the establishment of high-quality programs in areas where preschool programs do not exist, improved preschool quality in states and localities with subpar programs, and expanded access in areas where high-quality programs already exist. This proposal aims to reduce the income-based gap in school readiness between disadvantaged and higher-income preschool-aged children, and to improve school outcomes for disadvantaged preschool children. This proposal is chapter one of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Promoting Early Childhood Development.

Policy Proposal May 1, 2014

Think Before You Act: A New Approach to Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout

A growing body of research in psychology and behavioral economics suggests that a great deal of everyone’s behavior happens intuitively and automatically, with little deliberate thought. In this paper, Jens Ludwig and Anuj Shah propose a five-year strategy for scaling out behaviorally informed interventions—such as the "Becoming a Man" (BAM) program —to help disadvantaged youths recognize high-stakes situations in which their automatic responses could be maladaptive and may lead to trouble.

Economic Analysis Oct 4, 2013

Higher Education Today: Innovative Approaches for College Financing

For many Americans, the high cost of higher education provides a substantial barrier to college entry and ultimate completion. In this economic analysis, The Hamilton Project provides a snapshot of today’s higher education student, illustrating how the current generation of students are older and more financially independent than in the past, and highlights three forthcoming Hamilton Project papers that address the complicated landscape of higher education financing through innovative policy proposals.

Economic Analysis Jul 5, 2013

Rising Student Debt Burdens: Factors Behind the Phenomenon

Despite the positive return to higher education, many Americans are concerned about their ability to pay for college, and there is increasing focus on the rising burden of student loans on recent graduates. Although average net tuition—the actual cost to students after grant aid, scholarships, and other financial aid—has increased somewhat over the last two decades, the volume of student debt has increased far more dramatically, as has the default rate on student loans. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines possible explanations for the recent increases in student debt and default rates.

Policy Proposal Jun 25, 2013

Informing Students about Their College Options: A Proposal for Broadening the Expanding College Opportunities Project

In a discussion paper for The Hamilton Project, Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University and Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia present a strategy for improving college outcomes for high-achieving, low-income students. Building on previous research showing that most high-achieving, low-income students do not even apply to selective colleges, Hoxby and Turner propose expanding a recently piloted informational intervention called the Expanding College Opportunities (ECO) Project.

Economic Analysis Jun 6, 2013

Is Starting College and Not Finishing Really That Bad?

In recent years there has been increasing concern about students who begin two- and four-year college programs but fail to complete a degree—particularly in light of the large increase in student debt and concerns about the high costs of college. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines whether starting college is worth it for students who fail to complete a degree. The findings show that students who complete “some college” earn about $100,000 more throughout their lifetime than their peers with only a high school education, and the rate of return to their investment exceeds the historical return on practically any conventional investment, including stocks, bonds, and real estate.

Economic Analysis Oct 5, 2012

Regardless of the Cost, College Still Matters

There is ongoing debate about the rising cost of college and whether that investment is still worthwhile in today’s economy. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines the rising cost of college over the last 30 years and finds that while college costs are growing, the increase in earnings one receives from a college degree—and, by extension, the cost of not going to college—are growing even faster.

Policy Proposal Sep 27, 2012

Harnessing Technology to Improve K-12 Education

Education technologies hold promise for personalized learning and for building basic skills, but a fundamental obstacle remains: the effectiveness of learning technologies is rarely known. Building on the Common Core State Standards and increasing access to broadband internet, Aaron K. Chatterji of Duke University and Benjamin Jones of Northwestern University propose the establishment of a new third-party ratings organization to overcome this challenge.

Policy Proposal Nov 30, 2011

Raising Job Quality and Skills for American Workers: Creating More-Effective Education and Workforce Development Systems in the States

Less educated workers often experience prolonged periods of unemployment and stagnating wages because they lack the skills necessary to compete in a global economy. In a new Hamilton Project paper, Harry J. Holzer proposes a set of competitive grants to fund education, training, and career counseling initiatives that feature private sector connections based on the experience of existing successful workforce development programs.

Strategy Paper Nov 30, 2011

Building America’s Job Skills with Effective Workforce Programs: A Training Strategy to Raise Wages and Increase Work Opportunities

Amid the Great Recession and rapid technological changes, both workers with less education and workers who have been displaced from long-tenured jobs face challenges because they lack the particular skills that employers demand for good-paying jobs. In a new Hamilton Project strategy paper, Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney address the importance of developing workers’ skills through training and workforce development programs, and examine newly available evidence on policies that boost job opportunities and wages.

Strategy Paper Sep 27, 2011

Improving Student Outcomes: Restoring America’s Education Potential

For decades, education has boosted U.S. productivity and earnings, forged a path out of poverty for many families, helped disadvantaged students narrow the learning gap with their peers, and developed a workforce that continues to be among the most productive and innovative on Earth. However, in recent years educational attainment and performance have stagnated. In this strategy paper, The Hamilton Project provides a dual-track approach to improving educational outcomes for K-12 students by addressing structural barriers and implementing short-term cost-effective reforms to improve student performance.

Policy Proposal Sep 27, 2011

The Power and Pitfalls of Education Incentives

Recent incentive programs demonstrate that well-designed rewards to students can improve student achievement at relatively low costs. Bradley M. Allan and Roland G. Fryer draw on field experiments to propose a set of guidelines to design a successful education incentive program. Those guidelines include paying students to perform tasks that will lead to better academic performance rather than paying them for grades and test scores alone.

Policy Proposal Sep 27, 2011

Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments

While education reform is often focused on dramatic changes, Brian A. Jacob and Jonah E. Rockoff suggest that implementing managerial reforms and making sure the “trains run on time” can substantially increase student learning at modest cost. Jacob and Rockoff propose three organizational reforms to improve student performance at moderate cost: 1) Starting school later in the day for middle and high school students; 2) Shifting from separate to elementary and middle schools to K-8; 3) allow teachers to teach the same grade level for multiple years or having teachers specializing in the subject where they appear most effective.

Policy Proposal Sep 27, 2011

New Assessments for Improved Accountability

In recent years, efforts to hold teachers and schools accountable for student test scores have increased as part of an attempt to increase student achievement by raising teacher effectiveness and bringing up the performance of low-performing schools. Derek Neal proposes improved assessments and accountability systems through two distinct examinations: one traditional test to track educational achievement over time, and a new examination to evaluate teacher performance.

Economic Analysis Sep 21, 2011

Are We Short-Changing our Future? The Economic Imperative of Attracting Great Teachers

America's workforce needs a strong eduction system to compete and research demonstrates the power of a good teacher to boost student achievement. However, hiring and retaining effective teachers has become difficult, partly due to compensation. In a new policy memo, The Hamilton Project explores the relative salary declines of teachers during the last four decades when compared to other professions.

Economic Analysis Feb 4, 2011

A Broader Look at The U.S. Employment Situation and the Importance of a Good Education

The January employment numbers, released today by the U.S. Department of Labor, present mixed evidence about the state of the labor market. While the unemployment rate dropped to 9 percent, payrolls were just better than flat, increasing by only 36,000 jobs last month. Much attention is given to the official unemployment rate, which is certainly an important indicator of our employment situation. But, in fact, the unemployment rate tends to understate the severity of the challenge for American workers in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Policy Proposal Dec 3, 2010

Grading Higher Education: Giving Consumers the Information They Need

Potential students and their families must navigate a labyrinth of incomplete and uncertain information when deciding where to go to college, what to study, or what career to pursue, resulting in an array of poor choices being made every day. This proposal calls for the federal government to expand the types of information that are available and allow users to compare indicators like cost, financial aid, student debt, employment outcomes, and average salaries following graduation, across peer institutions.

Policy Proposal Jun 1, 2008

Viewing Education Loans Through a Myopic Lens

Although the federal government dedicated nearly $40 billion to funding student loans in 2006, only 60 percent of potential students from low-income families attend college, compared with 90 percent from high-income families. This paper argues that enrollment rates are lower than they could be because potential students undervalue loan subsidies, which are delivered after graduation instead of up front when a student enrolls and incurs costs.