Category Archives: Workforce

After Work: Automation and Employment Law, Part Three

Source: Cynthia Estlund, OnLabor blog, August 4, 2017

Automation and Work: A Path Forward in the Face of Uncertainty
For over a century, workers and their organizations have struggled to raise labor standards and expand employee rights and benefits. Whatever the benefits to workers and the society, to any one private firm those laws represent a tax on employing human labor, and part of the calculus in decisions to contract out work or to replace people with machines. A logical though dispiriting response to plausible predictions of escalating net job losses would be to find ways to unburden the employment relationship.

There are arguments against any such response to the automation threat, and I discuss them in my paper. But they are partial and qualified. If we remain concerned (as I do) that labor and employment laws are contributing in some measure to net job losses, we would do well to consider whether it is possible to reduce the legal tax on employing human labor without undermining the quality and rewards of work for all those who work for a living in the future. The beginning of an answer lies, I believe, in separating the question of what entitlements workers (or people) should have from the question of where the attendant costs should fall…..

Related:

After Work: Automation and Employment Law, Part One
Source: Cynthia Estlund, OnLabor blog, August 1, 2017

The labor world took notice when Andy Stern emerged from a years-long deep dive into the future of work, and concluded that the future will bring a lot less work. His book, Raising the Floor, helped to spur a debate over the universal basic income (UBI), including on this blog. But the underlying issue of technology-related job loss has not yet engaged the close attention of labor and employment law scholars. That should change. Even more than firms’ flight from direct employment through fissuring, their replacement of human labor with ever more capable and cost-effective technology threatens the foundations of economic and social life, and calls for a reexamination of prevailing approaches to regulation of employment.

I recently posted a paper on SSRN about the problem of automation and job loss. Here I will take up three of its points in highly condensed form. This post will briefly review the debate on automation and job loss. The second post will discuss the role of labor costs, including those attributable to labor and employment law, in motivating firms both to automate and to contract out labor needs through “fissuring.” The third post will ask what can be done within the boundaries of labor and employment law to address the risk of impending job losses, considering the high degree of uncertainty about that risk….

After Work: Automation and Employment Law, Part Two
Source: Cynthia Estlund, OnLabor blog, August 2, 2017

Automation and Job Loss: What’s Law Got To Do With It?
The challenge of automation is in many ways continuous with the challenges of “fissured” work – to use David Weil’s influential formulation. In particular, both trends are driven in significant part by the costs and risks of employing human beings. According to investment banker Steven Berkenfeld, CEOs these days ask, “’Can I automate it? If not, can I outsource it? If not, can I give it to an independent contractor?’ Hiring an employee is the last resort.”

Part of the cost of employing humans stems from labor and employment laws. Some laws entail predictable direct costs, such as payroll taxes for social insurance programs, minimum wage and overtime laws, and the “pay or play” mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Other laws raise the cost of employing people by injecting risk, like the risk of litigation under laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Large corporate compliance departments, costing billions of dollars per year, are devoted in part to avoiding or managing these risks and liabilities…..

The Promise of the State-Federal Partnership on Workforce and Job Training

Source: National Governors Association and the National Associations of State Workforce Liaisons and State Workforce Board Chairs, 2017

Report from the National Governors Association and the National Associations of State Workforce Liaisons and State Workforce Board Chairs on the importance of strong partnership between states and the federal government on workforce development.

State Health Agency and Local Health Department Workforce: Identifying Top Development Needs

Source: Angela J. Beck, Jonathon P. Leider, Fatima Coronado, and Elizabeth Harper, American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), Vol. 107 no. 9, September 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objectives.
To identify occupations with high-priority workforce development needs at public health departments in the United States.

Methods.
We surveyed 46 state health agencies (SHAs) and 112 local health departments (LHDs). We asked respondents to prioritize workforce needs for 29 occupations and identify whether more positions, more qualified candidates, more competitive salaries for recruitment or retention, or new or different staff skills were needed.

Results.
Forty-one SHAs (89%) and 36 LHDs (32%) participated. The SHAs reported having high-priority workforce needs for epidemiologists and laboratory workers; LHDs for disease intervention specialists, nurses, and administrative support, management, and leadership positions. Overall, the most frequently reported SHA workforce needs were more qualified candidates and more competitive salaries. The LHDs most frequently reported a need for more positions across occupations and more competitive salaries. Workforce priorities for respondents included strengthening epidemiology workforce capacity, adding administrative positions, and improving compensation to recruit and retain qualified employees.

Conclusions.
Strategies for addressing workforce development concerns of health agencies include providing additional training and workforce development resources, and identifying best practices for recruitment and retention of qualified candidates.

Redefining Economic Development Performance Indicators for a Field in Transition

Source: Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC), July 2017

…State economic development leaders have embraced the need to report program outcomes to demonstrate the impact of their efforts but seek better indicators to measure those outcomes. This paper, Redefining Economic Development Performance Indicators for a Field in Transition, identifies a set of metrics beyond jobs and investment tallies to capture the broader benefits of economic development initiatives. This effort reflects an ongoing transition within economic development as the field moves from a recession-driven emphasis on job creation via business attraction and retention to a focus on wealth generation and asset building, especially among communities that have not enjoyed the benefits of economic recovery. Accordingly, this paper examines metrics that capture a wider approach to economic development by focusing on indicators related to job quality/worker prosperity and business dynamics….

The Effects of the Affordable Care Act on Health Insurance Coverage and Labor Market Outcomes

Source: Mark Duggan, Gopi Shah Goda, Emilie Jackson, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 23607, July 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes several provisions designed to expand insurance coverage that also alter the tie between employment and health insurance. In this paper, we exploit variation across geographic areas in the potential impact of the ACA to estimate its effect on health insurance coverage and labor market outcomes in the first two years after the implementation of its main features. Our measures of potential ACA impact come from pre-existing population shares of uninsured individuals within income groups that were targeted by Medicaid expansions and federal subsidies for private health insurance, interacted with each state’s Medicaid expansion status. Our findings indicate that the majority of the increase in health insurance coverage since 2013 is due to the ACA and that areas in which the potential Medicaid and exchange enrollments were higher saw substantially larger increases in coverage. While labor market outcomes in the aggregate were not significantly affected, our results indicate that labor force participation reductions in areas with higher potential exchange enrollment were offset by increases in labor force participation in areas with higher potential Medicaid enrollment

Millennials and the Future of Work

Source: Finance & Development: A Quarterly Publication of the International Monetary Fund, Volume 54 Number 2, June 2017

Millennials are increasingly looking to find their way in the sharing economy.

Articles include:
An Uncertain Future
by: Maureen Burke
Along with exciting new possibilities, millennials face a whole different set of obstacles

The Future of Work
by: Arun Sundararajan
The digital economy will sharply erode the traditional employer-employee relationship

Straight Talk: The Voice of Youth
by: Christine Lagar
Adapt, adjust, and never stop learning

Pension Shock
by: Mauricio Soto
Young adults in advanced economies must take steps to increase their retirement income security

Education for Life
by: Nagwa Riad
Labor markets are changing, and millennials must prepare and adjust

Playing Catch-up
by: Lisa Dettling and Joanne W. Hsu
Youth today are not building wealth the way their parents did

In Their Own Words
by: Niccole Braynen-Kimani and Maria Jovanović
Millennials reflect on the key challenges facing their generation

Physician Workforce: Locations and Types of Graduate Training Were Largely Unchanged, and Federal Efforts May Not Be Sufficient to Meet Needs

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), GAO-17-411: Published: May 25, 2017

From the summary:
The federal government has reported physician shortages in rural areas; it also projects a deficit of over 20,000 primary care physicians by 2025. Residents in graduate medical education (GME) affect the supply of physicians. Federal GME spending is over $15 billion/year.

We found that, from 2005-15, residents were concentrated in the Northeast and in urban areas. And, while many trained in primary care, primary care residents often subspecialize in other fields. Federal efforts to increase GME in rural areas and primary care were limited. In 2015, we recommended HHS develop a plan for its health care workforce programs—it has yet to do so.

State and Local Government Workforce: 2017 Trends

Source: Center for State and Local Government Excellence, June 2017

From the summary:
Recruiting and retaining qualified personnel was the top priority for 91 percent of respondents to the 2017 workforce trends survey released today by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE). Respondents also rated staff and leadership development (77 and 76 percent) and succession planning (74 percent) as important workforce issues.

Key findings:
– Key findings from the annual survey, conducted by SLGE, the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, and National Association of State Personnel Executives were:
– 74 percent reported hiring staff
– 47 percent hired contract or temporary employees
– 38 percent shifted more health care costs to employees
– 24 percent established wellness programs.
– Every year since 2010, a majority of respondents to the annual survey has reported making changes to health insurance benefits. On the other hand, the pace of changes to retirement plans has slowed in recent years. In 2012, 24 percent reported increasing current employee contributions to retirement plans compared with 9 percent increasing current employee contributions in 2016. Positions hardest to fill in 2016 were:
– Police officers (21 percent)
– Information technology (17 percent)
– Engineers (14 percent) and
– Health care (13 percent)
– Skills in greatest demand were in interpersonal relations (65 percent), written communications (53 percent), and technology (51 percent).

The Jobs That Weren’t Saved

Source: Sean Gregory, Time, May 18, 2017

…. If Trump’s Carrier deal was a reminder of how the bully pulpit could be used to make the private sector bend, Rexnord’s closure shows its limits–and offers a lesson in the challenges of reversing a global economic trend decades in the making. …. Some 19.5 million Americans held manufacturing jobs in 1979, an all-time high. By 1983, the figure was already down to about 16.7 million. By 2024, according to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 7.1% of Americans will work in manufacturing.
The reasons are many, but the prime culprits are globalization and automation. In 1991, China accounted for 2.3% of the world’s manufacturing exports. In 2001, the country joined the World Trade Organization, and by 2013, China’s share of global exports was 18.8%, according to a 2016 study in the Annual Review of Economics. Countries such as Mexico and the Philippines have also increased their exports. Labor in these markets tends to be substantially cheaper than in the U.S., and trade deals like NAFTA make it easy for American companies to produce goods in far-flung locales. To economists, however, America’s shrinking manufacturing jobs have less to do with free trade than with robots. ….

What we know and don’t know about declining labor force participation: A review

Source: Eleanor Krause and Isabel V. Sawhill, Brookings Institution, May 2017

From the summary:

For decades, the portion of prime-age men (ages 25 to 54) in the labor force has been in decline. More recently, the labor force participation rate of prime-age women has stagnated and also declined. This paper addresses the consequences of, and reasons for, these declines, especially among men. A subsequent effort will address appropriate policy responses.

Women’s increasing workforce participation through the late 1990s largely masked the precipitous decline in male participation rates. Men’s rates have fallen about 8 percentage points over the past 60 years. On both fronts, the U.S. is also falling behind other advanced economies. U.S. prime-age female participation fell from 6th to 17th of 22 OECD member countries between 1990 and 2010. Over the same period, the decline in the prime-age male participation rate was the second most severe of the OECD countries, and is now the third lowest among the 34 member countries. The U.S. trends are particularly pronounced for non-Hispanic black men and less-skilled adults. There is now an 11 percentage point gap in participation rates between men with a college degree and those with a high school degree or less—whereas 50 years ago, the two rates were very similar.

Explanations for these trends tend to focus either on the demand for workers or the supply of labor. Trade and technology have reduced the demand for certain types of work, particularly less-skilled labor in fields like manufacturing. Of the two, most economists believe that automation has played the larger role. Manufacturing’s share of GDP has remained relatively stable but, thanks in part to productivity improvements, the sector now employs only two-thirds as many people as it did 30 years ago. Technological change has widened the wage gap between skill levels. While a man with a high school degree earned about three-quarters of the wages of his college-educated counterpart in 1980, he now earns about half as much. At the same time that technology has made certain jobs obsolete, new jobs are being created in other areas (both high-wage managerial and technical jobs and low-wage service sector jobs), but these new jobs often require different skills or pay lower wages…..