From my colleague Annette Bernhardt:
The Role of Labor Market Regulation in Rebuilding Economic Opportunity in the U.S.
In the search for policy solutions to rising inequality and precariousness in the U.S., this essay argues for the central role of labor market regulation. It presents research and policy evidence for a three-pronged approach: (1) strengthening the floor of labor standards (wages, health and safety, and right to organize chief among them); (2) vigorously enforcing that floor; and (3) leveraging government contracting and grants to build a base of good jobs on top of that floor. The essay concludes that getting to scale in the current political climate will require ratcheting up from state and local policy campaigns to federal reform.
All Work and No Pay: Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City
Despite three decades of scholarship on economic restructuring in the US, employers’ violations of minimum wage, overtime, and other workplace laws remain understudied. This article begins to fill the gap by presenting evidence from a large-scale, original worker survey that draws on recent advances in sampling methodology to reach vulnerable workers. Our findings suggest that in America’s three largest cities, violations of employment and labor laws are pervasive across low-wage industries and occupations, impacting a wide range of workers. We also find that while worker characteristics are correlated with violations, it is job and employer characteristics that play the stronger role, including industry, occupation, and measures of informality and nonstandard work. We conclude by proposing that employers’ noncompliance with labor regulations needs to be understood as a key business strategy shaping work and opportunity in the 21st century labor market.
Employers Gone Rogue: Explaining Industry Variation in Violations of Workplace Laws
Drawing on a representative survey of workers in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, the authors analyze violations of minimum wage, overtime, and other workplace laws at the industry level. They document significant variation between low-wage industries in both the mix and prevalence of violations, and show that while differences in workforce composition are important in explaining that variation, it is differences in job and employer characteristics that play the stronger role. The authors integrate these findings with existing industry research to elaborate the thesis that violations of employment and laws are emerging as a key strategy in the reorganization of work and production at the bottom of the U.S. labor market.