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.
This economic analysis focuses on the role of occupational licensing—that is, the legal permission that many workers must obtain before working in professions ranging from law and medicine to, in some states, floral arrangement and landscaping.
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.
In this framing paper, The Hamilton Project describes the broader economic context of contingent employer–employee relationships and where the emerging on-demand gig economy fits in this context. It also highlights the regulatory and measurement gaps that need to be resolved.
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.
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.