Employment Creation Potential, Labor Skills Requirements, and Skill Gaps for Young People: A Methodological Framework

Employment Creation Potential, Labor Skills Requirements, and Skill Gaps for Young People: A Methodological Framework. Brookings Institution. Haroon Bhorat et al. March 4, 2020

This paper presents a methodological framework for assessing the extent to which youth unemployment can be addressed through employment creation in industries without smokestacks in individual countries, as well as the skill gaps in the youth population that need to be addressed for this potential to be reached. There are two components to the method: (i) estimating skill demand, and (ii) identifying skill gaps in the target youth population. On the labor demand side, the framework seeks to identify the skills required for a sector to reach its employment potential. On the supply side, the methodology ultimately aims to answer the question: Do the skills to meet the demand in the sector exist in the population; and if not, where are the gaps? [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 51 pages].

Automation: A Guide for Policymakers

Automation: A Guide for Policymakers. Brookings Institution. James Bessen et al. January 14, 2020.

Advancing technologies are increasingly able to fully or partially automate job tasks. These technologies range from robotics to machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence, and are being adopted across many sectors of the economy. Applications range from selecting job applicants for interviewing, picking orders in a warehouse, interpreting X-rays to diagnose disease, and automated customer service. These developments have raised concern that workers are being displaced by advancing automation technology. Indeed, over 18 recent studies predict job losses from new automation technologies, including some predictions of massive job losses (Winick 2018). A large literature on worker displacement suggests that the effects of such developments could be dire: individual workers subject to plant closings and mass layoffs experience reduced employment probabilities and wage reductions, leading to long-term earnings losses, as well as reductions in consumption and worse health outcomes. Concerns about these effects of automation have led some commentators to call for policies to directly combat mass unemployment, such as a Universal Basic Income.

But is this right? At a time when many firms are investing in automation, the unemployment rate is at historic lows. Low unemployment might seem hard to reconcile with apocalyptic predictions about mass unemployment. This paper reviews the evidence from recent studies and reports on a new paper we have written, “Automatic Reaction: What happens to workers at firms that automate” (Bessen et al. 2019). This paper is the first to take a look at what actually happens to those workers. We build on some of the findings in order to draw the implications for policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 17 pages].

Realism About Reskilling: Upgrading the Career Prospects of America’s Low-Wage Workers

Realism About Reskilling: Upgrading the Career Prospects of America’s Low-Wage Workers. Brookings Institution.  Marcela Escobari, Ian Seyal, Michael Meaney. November 7, 2019.

Every person deserves the opportunity for dignified employment that provides living wages and potential for advancement. However, for many in America today, this is far from reality, as they are caught in a cycle of low-wage work, earning poverty wages and unable to move up in the economy.

Local leaders, firms, and workers need to adapt quickly to keep pace with rapid technological innovation and its transformative impact on the U.S. economy. Using reskilling as a focal point, this report aims to provide policymakers with tools to do so by answering the following questions:

  • Who are the nation’s low-wage workers, and what are their prospects?
  • Where are the local opportunities for mobility, and how can policymakers expand them and help low-wage workers transition?

How can the reskilling infrastructure adapt to the future, foster inclusion, and address the needs of any worker seeking upward mobility? [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 17 pages].

Employment, Education, and the Time Use of American Youth

Employment, Education, and the Time Use of American Youth. Brookings Institution. Lauren Bauer et al.  September 5, 2019

The labor force participation rate is a key measure of economic health. While the decline in prime-age workers’ labor force participation receives much attention from policymakers, it is far outpaced by the decline in participation among younger workers. In this analysis we show how changing employment and school enrollment patterns have contributed to declining labor force participation among youth, aged 16 to 24. Youth today are not disengaged; rather, declines in youth labor force participation primarily reflect a long-term but accelerating shift toward schooling and spending more time on education-related activities. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 26 pages].

Developing a National Recruiting Difficulty Index

Developing a National Recruiting Difficulty Index. RAND Corporation. Jeffrey B. Wenger et al. March 13, 2019

The U.S. Army recognizes that the recruiting environment has a significant impact on its ability to recruit. This report presents a forecasting model that measures recruiting difficulty to forecast a difficult or easy recruiting environment. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 136 pages].

The Changing Role of Energy in the U.S. Economy

The Changing Role of Energy in the U.S. Economy. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Sarah Ladislaw et al. January 28, 2019

Speakers from this Energy in America workshop discuss the role of energy in the U.S. economy at the national, regional, and local levels focused on economic impacts—including labor effects, economic distortions, and social mobility. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, several articles].

Labor Market Considerations for a National Job Guarantee

Labor Market Considerations for a National Job Guarantee. Brookings Institution. Ryan Nunn, Jimmy O’Donnell, and Jay Shambaugh. December 6, 2018

Despite a relatively strong U.S. economy in late 2018, many workers continue to experience stagnant wages and underemployment. In response, policy interventions like subsidized wages, training and search assistance, expanded public employment, and federal guarantees of employment have all been proposed, but relatively little is known about how a federal job guarantee would function. The authors therefore discuss a number of relevant labor market considerations: How many people are likely to participate in a job guarantee? What types of work and nonwork activities are the eligible population currently engaged in? What types of work would program participants do? Can we expect workers to be well matched with their employers? Are there unintended consequences of the program for participants or nonparticipants? The authors conclude that, while a job guarantee could lift employment rates and incomes for many participants, there is considerable uncertainty associated with its impacts. In particular, a potentially very large but unknown fraction of workers currently earning low wages—as well as those outside the labor force—would take up a job guarantee, meaning that it could affect far more workers than are currently unemployed or underemployed. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 37 pages].

Pathways to High-Quality Jobs for Young Adults

Pathways to High-Quality Jobs for Young Adults. Brookings Institution. Martha Ross et al. October, 2018

Helping young people prepare to engage in work and life as productive adults is a central challenge for any society. Yet, many young people in the United States—particularly those from low-income or less educated families—find that the path to employment and economic security in adulthood is poorly marked or inaccessible.

Using an advanced methodology and longitudinal data, this report examines two main questions:

  • The quality of jobs (as measured by wages, benefits, hours, and job satisfaction) held by 29-year-olds who experienced disadvantage in adolescence
  • Whether particular employment, education, and training experiences in adolescence and early adulthood predict higher-quality jobs for 29-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds.

[Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 56 pages].

Labor Market Patterns since 2007

Labor Market Patterns since 2007. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.  Sarah A. Donovan, Marc Labonte. October 3, 2018

The period since 2007 has been a time of significant change for labor markets. The Great Recession of 2007-2009, the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression, caused the unemployment rate to briefly reach 10%, and labor markets have subsequently experienced a long and gradual recovery. Most labor force metrics, including the unemployment rate and various other measures of labor force underutilization, have returned to levels that have historically been consistent with full employment.

 [PDF format, 26 pages].

Employer Engagement by Community-Based Organizations: Meeting the Needs of Job Seekers with Barriers to Success in the Labor Market

Employer Engagement by Community-Based Organizations: Meeting the Needs of Job Seekers with Barriers to Success in the Labor Market. Urban Institute. Shayne Spaulding, David Blount. May 22, 2018

 Employers need skilled workers to fill open jobs. Yet some workers face barriers to employment, even as the national unemployment rate dips to its lowest level in nearly two decades. These workers might face such challenges as a lack of skills, gaps in employment, or previous involvement in the criminal justice system.

Workforce development programs can help these workers overcome barriers to employment, helping them become a valuable resource to employers. Community-based organizations (CBOs) rooted in local communities and neighborhoods strive to engage employers and build trusting relationships with them to help workers get jobs and succeed at work while ensuring that employment programs meet employer needs. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 28 pages].