Robert Pollin, UMass Amherst economics professor and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, is cited in “Sustainability Jobs Get Green Light at Large Firms” an article which appeared in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. Pollin found that every $1 million spent on green-related projects creates about 17 jobs for the life of the project. The article notes that while unemployment remains high, companies seem to be hiring for positions relating to sustainability or renewable energy. In fact, large corporations like Coca-Cola Co. and United Parcel Service Inc. have both recently hired chief sustainability officers, charged with making sure their companies save energy and are environmentally responsible. (Wall Street Journal, 7/11/11)
In her Economix blog, Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst economics professor, examines why deficit reduction and not unemployment is dominating the public policy agenda. She offers several possible explanations including the fact that high unemployment rate is not adversely affecting overall business profits. (New York Times, 7/11/11)
The A.F.L.-C.I.O. and other unions keep demanding “Good jobs now!” Progressive think tanks like the Economic Policy Institute carefully monitor employment trends. Many economists, including the professionally prominent members of the Employment Policy Research Network, insist on the need for more attention to the issue. As Till von Wachter of Columbia University put it, “Unemployment is the No. 1 economic problem facing the country today.”
Some business leaders have spoken up. Last summer, Andrew Grove, the former chief executive of Intel, wrote a passionate commentaryfor Bloomberg BusinessWeek calling for a “job-centric” economy.
But this is not something the country can achieve with jobs-oblivious politicians. Why isn’t unemployment reduction front and center on the policy agenda? More specifically, why has the debate over deficit reduction shoved it aside?
First, unemployment is concentrated among the less educated, blacks and Hispanics who lack political or economic clout.
Second, high unemployment is not hurting overall business profits, which have soared to historic heights. In the 1930s, joblessness reduced the demand for consumer goods, idling many businesses as well as workers, creating economic incentives to support public job-creation efforts.
Today, our largest corporations and richest investors are well positioned to take advantage of growing demand in emerging markets far from our shores, whether in the form of increased exports or new investment opportunities.
As a small-business owner explained in a recent Wall Street Journal article, he only sells domestically and does not have the opportunity to “exploit foreign markets that are growing faster.”
The following working paper by Fidan Ana Kurtulus and Donald Tomaskovic-Devey is available on our website:
The goal of this study is to examine whether women in the highest levels of management ranks of firms help reduce barriers to advancement in the workplace faced by women. Using a panel of over 20,000 private-sector firms across all industries and states during 1990-2003 from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, we explore the influence of women in top management on subsequent female representation in lower-level managerial positions in U.S. firms. Our key findings show that an increase in the share of female top managers is associated with subsequent increases in the share of women in mid-level management positions within firms, and this result is robust to controlling for firm size, workforce composition, federal contractor status, firm fixed effects, year fixed effects and industry-specific trends. The influence of women in top management positions is stronger among federal contractors, in firms with larger female labor forces, and for white women. We also find that the positive influence of women in top leadership positions on managerial gender diversity diminishes over time, suggesting that women at the top play a positive but transitory role in women’s career advancement.
The following working paper by Fidan Ana Kurtulus, Douglas Kruse and Joseph Blasi is available on our website:
Using the NBER Shared Capitalism Database comprised of over 40,000 employee surveys from 14 firms, we investigate worker attitudes towards employee ownership, profit sharing, and variable pay. Specifically, our study uses detailed survey questions on preferences over profit sharing, forms of employee ownership like company stock and stock option ownership, as well as preferences over variable pay in general, to explore how preferences for these different types of output-contingent pay vary with worker risk aversion, residual control, and views of co-workers and management. Our key results show that, on average, workers want at least a part of their compensation to be performance-related, with stronger preferences for output-contingent pay schemes among workers who have lower levels of risk aversion, greater residual control over the work process, and greater trust of co-workers and management