You have JavaScript turned off! Javascript is required for the best experience on this site.

All Papers: Employment & Wages:

Economic Facts Oct 4, 2016

Seven Facts on Noncognitive Skills from Education to the Labor Market

In the past 30 years, the U.S. labor market has shifted dramatically toward increasing demand and reward for noncognitive skills. These noncognitive skills – elsewhere called soft skills or social, emotional, and behavioral skills – include qualities like perseverance, conscientiousness, self-control, social skills, and leadership ability. To facilitate success in the modern labor market, education policies should address how schools and teachers develop noncognitive skills.  In this set of economic facts, The Hamilton Project explores the development of noncognitive skills in education and the returns to noncognitive skills in the labor market.

Economic Analysis Feb 5, 2016

An Additional Measure of The Hamilton Project’s Jobs Gap Analysis

This month The Hamilton Project introduces an additional methodology, in addition to our standard monthly “jobs gap” measure (which calculates the number of jobs needed to return to the pre-recession employment-to-population ratio). Specifically, we add a new jobs gap measure calculating the number of jobs needed to reach the pre-recession unemployment rate after allowing for demographic shifts and changes in labor force participation. This will enable our readers to see the contrast between the two methods of estimating the jobs gap.

Policy Proposal Dec 7, 2015

A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

The rise of technological intermediaries enabling workers to engage in the gig economy has resulted in protracted legal battles over whether to classify these workers as “employees” or “independent contractors.” Seth Harris and Alan Krueger propose assigning benefits and protections to independent workers according to whether or not the new benefits meet three certain considerations, and seek to address several growing issues in the labor market.

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 elements of the public debate and note explicitly that these positions are not necessarily at odds.

Framing Paper Mar 9, 2015

Three Targeted Approaches to Expand Employment Opportunities

The United States has experienced a fairly steady recovery since the Great Recession—fifty-three consecutive months of positive job creation as of this writing—but there is room for continued improvement.This framing memo from The Hamilton Project discusses three proposals from prominent scholars, each of which addresses a specific challenge in a potentially cost-effective way to address both cyclical and longer-term labor market challenges and, suggests ways to help workers.

Policy Proposal Mar 9, 2015

Strengthening Reemployment in the Unemployment Insurance System

Helping unemployed workers return to work has long been a policy challenge in the United States, and the urgency of the problem tends to increase during and after economic downturns. In this paper, Adriana Kugler offers three pilot programs to reform the unemployment system by encouraging different ways to return to work. The first program would allow the unemployed to continue claiming benefits while receiving entrepreneurial training and other assistance for setting up a business. The second program would support the unemployed through temporary positions and internships that might lead to full-time jobs. The third program would provide partial benefits to claimants who accept part-time jobs.

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.

Economic Analysis Aug 1, 2014

An Update to The Hamilton Project’s Jobs Gap Analysis

Each month, The Hamilton Project calculates America’s “jobs gap,” or the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while absorbing the people who newly enter the labor force each month. In this month’s economic analysis, we have made changes to the appearance of the jobs gap chart and the methodology behind the jobs gap calculations. As of the end of July 2014, our nation faces a jobs gap of 5.7 million jobs.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Designing Thoughtful Minimum Wage Policy at the State and Local Levels

In this policy memo, Arindrajit Dube proposes that state and local governments consider median wages and local costs when setting minimum wages, index the minimum wage for inflation, and engage in regional wage setting. This proposal aims to raise the earnings of low-wage workers with minimal negative impacts on employment. This proposal is chapter thirteen of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Encouraging Work Sharing to Reduce Unemployment

In this policy memo, Katharine G. Abraham and Susan N. Houseman propose that the federal government subsidize state work-sharing payments during economic downturns, make work sharing a requirement for state unemployment insurance systems, change federal requirements to modify provisions of state work-sharing plans that may discourage employer participation, and provide states with adequate funding to administer work-sharing programs. This proposal, targeted at workers who would otherwise become unemployed during cyclical downturns, aims to reduce the number of layoffs during economic downturns. This proposal is chapter twelve of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.

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 Summer Employment Opportunities for Low-Income Youth

In this policy memo, Amy Ellen Schwartz and Jacob Leos-Urbel propose that the U.S. Department of Labor distribute federal grants to states for municipalities to provide summer employment to disadvantaged youth, first through a pilot program and then through a nationwide expansion. This proposal, targeted at low-income youth who are enrolled in or have recently graduated from high school, aims to increase school attendance, improve educational outcomes, and reduce violent behavior and crime. This proposal is chapter five of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Supporting Disadvantaged Youth.

Policy Proposal Jun 2, 2014

Supporting Low-Income Workers through Refundable Child-Care Credits

In this policy memo, James P. Ziliak proposes converting the federal Child and Dependent Care Credit from a nonrefundable tax credit to a refundable one, capping eligibility at $70,000 and making the credit a progressive function of income, child age, and use of licensed care facilities. This proposal, targeted at low- and middle-income families with children under the age of twelve, aims to increase labor force participation, disposable income, and the use of higher-quality child care. This proposal is chapter ten of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.

Economic Analysis Sep 12, 2013

The Lasting Effects of the Great Recession: Six Million Missing Workers and A New Economic Normal

Despite the consistent pattern of modest jobs growth over the last several years, the nation’s goal of a full recovery from the Great Recession remains elusive. One factor contributing to this outcome is an unclear definition of what “recovery” means, as policymakers have suggested a wide variety of economic goals. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project explores the “jobs gap,” or the number of jobs the economy would have to add to offset the effects of the Great Recession, which we offer as a useful target for economic recovery. The analysis discusses how changes in population and labor-force participation rates will affect the time it takes to close the gap and how we measure progress toward our economic recovery.

Economic Analysis Aug 2, 2013

What New Immigrants Could Mean for American Wages

The Hamilton Project examines how future immigration trends could impact American wages, using targets set in the recently-passed Senate bill as a signpost. Understanding that S.744 is just the first piece of legislation out of the gate, the new analysis suggests that the average impact of new immigrants on the wages of U.S.-born workers would be positive (based on CBO estimates, the analysis assumes approximately 9.6 million additional immigrants by 2013 due to the legislation). The analysis also suggests that American workers are likely to gain through other channels, based on evidence that immigrants enhance purchasing power of consumers, increase demand for goods and services at businesses, and contribute to innovation that boost living standards over time.

Economic Analysis May 3, 2013

Should the United States Have 2.2 Million More Jobs?

Following the last five recessions in U.S. history, the economy added government jobs—an average of 1.7 million, in fact—that helped spur our economic recovery. In contrast, during our recovery from the Great Recession, the economy has shed more than 500,000 government jobs. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project explores the trajectory of public-sector employment since the Great Recession. The findings show that if the policy response to this recession had been similar to the response after other recent recessions, the economy would have about 2.2 million more jobs today.

Policy Proposal Apr 17, 2013

Using Data to Improve the Performance of Workforce Training

Workforce training programs have the potential to improve the lives and incomes of millions of Americans by lifting many into the middle class and preventing others from falling out of it. Despite their promise, however, too many workers enroll in courses that they do not complete or complete courses that do not lead to better jobs, reducing the benefits to workers and the economic return to workforce investments. Louis Jacobson of New Horizons Economic Research and Robert LaLonde of the University of Chicago propose a competition to increase the return on training investments by developing the data and measures necessary to provide the information prospective trainees need, by presenting the information in user-friendly “report cards,” by providing help for prospective trainees to use the information effectively, and by creating incentives for states to implement permanent information systems once they prove cost-effective.

Economic Analysis Apr 5, 2013

An Evidence-Based Approach to Improving Worker Training Programs

There is significant pressure facing policymakers at all levels of government to fund programs that provide the best results for the best value. Worker training programs provide one example of where better use of evidence could dramatically improve outcomes for many Americans. The Hamilton Project explores how the use of evidence and data could help workers determine which training programs can most effectively help them find employment and increase their earnings.

Economic Analysis Mar 8, 2013

Sequestration’s Threat to America’s Most Vulnerable

In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project looks at current poverty trends in the United States, the important role of government support programs, and how sequestration could remove critical aspects of the safety net in the midst of continued labor-market weakness. The Project finds sequestration could throw many American families back into poverty during this sensitive period of economic recovery by cutting the very programs that are helping them stay above water.

Economic Analysis Dec 16, 2012

How Long Will it Take to Get to 6.5 Percent Unemployment?

The Fed recently announced that it would keep interest rates at historic lows until the unemployment rate dropped below 6.5 percent, so long as inflation remained below 2.5 percent. In a new analysis, The Hamilton Project presents a range of estimates of how long it will take for the unemployment rate to fall to 6.5 percent based on different rates of job growth and an assumption about the growth of the labor force.

Economic Analysis Dec 7, 2012

The Impact of Fiscal Cliff Negotiations on American Jobs: The Tradeoff Between Deficit Reduction and Economic Growth

As the year draws to a close, policymakers and the media have their sights fixed on the “fiscal cliff” – the rapidly approaching day on which federal law mandates precipitous cuts in spending and increases in taxes. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines how various approaches to confronting the fiscal cliff are projected to impact the employment situation in the coming year.

Economic Analysis Dec 4, 2012

The Importance of Unemployment Insurance for American Families and the Economy

About two million U.S. residents stand to lose extended unemployment insurance benefits next month when legislation that temporarily increased how long people can claim benefits will expire. As lawmakers negotiate a path around the fiscal cliff and consider whether to extend these benefits, The Hamilton Project looks at the evidence on unemployment insurance, finding that the benefits of UI extension likely outweigh the costs.

Economic Analysis Nov 2, 2012

How Does Our Economic Future Compare with That of 2008? A Glimpse at America’s Road to Recovery

As Americans prepare to cast their ballots for president, many voters are pausing to assess the state of the economy. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project reviews the available data to explore whether America’s economic future looks brighter today than it did four years ago and finds that the data clearly indicate a much rosier future for the United States than was the case in 2008.

Economic Analysis Mar 9, 2012

Understanding the “Jobs Gap” and What it Says About America’s Evolving Workforce

The Hamilton Project reexamines the current rate of labor force expansion, and how shifts in labor force participation will decrease the time it will take to close the “jobs gap.” As a result of new methodology based on population estimates, we now project that at a job creation rate of 208,000 per month, it will take until 2020 to close the jobs gap, rather than late 2023 as we had projected with the old method.

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.

Policy Proposal Nov 30, 2011

Policies to Reduce High-Tenured Displaced Workers’ Earnings Losses Through Retraining

After being displaced from long-tenured jobs, workers often experience persistent, significant earnings losses. New research suggests that retraining in certain “high-return” fields can substantially reduce these losses. In a new Hamilton Project paper, Louis S. Jacobson, Robert J. LaLonde and Daniel G. Sullivan propose the establishment of a Displaced Worker Training (DWT) Program to distribute grants to displaced workers so they can obtain longer-term training to substantially increase their earnings. The DWT Program would also leverage the nation’s One-Stop Career Centers to assess and counsel grantees.

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

Supporting Work: A Proposal for Modernizing the U.S. Disability Insurance System

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program has failed to support the ongoing employment and economic self-sufficiency of workers with disabilities, leading to rapid growth in program expenditures and declining employment of Americans with disabilities. This proposal offers a blueprint for reversing this needless employment decline and stemming the dramatic growth of the SSDI program.

Strategy Paper Oct 13, 2010

An Economic Strategy to Renew American Communities

When hit by recessions or other economic shocks, some communities have persistently low rates of economic growth that cause them to fall behind the rest of the country. The recovery period for these distressed communities is longer and more painful than necessary. To address this situation, The Hamilton Project proposes a three-pronged approach: attract businesses to distressed areas, invest in displaced workers, and match workers to jobs.