June 10, 2021

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News and Events from the CIRHR

Spotlight On: MIR & MIRHR Alumni! Our June Spotlight features Scott Shaw (MIR 2000); Lisa Le Francois-Suarez (MIR 2001); Caitlin Gascon (MIRHR 2012); and Ray Lin (MIRHR 2012). Whether you are a current MIRHR, a member of our wonderful community of alumni, or simply curious about the program, we hope that, together, these spotlights will give you a taste of the many paths our graduates travel.

2021 Thomas A. Kochan and Stephen R. Sleigh Best Dissertation Award: Congratulations to Dr. Yao Yao (CIRHR PhD 2020), whose dissertation, 'Uberizing the Legal Profession? Three Essays on Lawyers in Digital Platform-based Legal Services,' has been named a co-winner of the Labor and Employment Relations Association’s 2021 Thomas A. Kochan and Stephen R. Sleigh Best Dissertation Awards Competition.

CIRHR Welcomes New Faculty Members: The CIRHR is pleased to welcome two new faculty members who will be joining us over the course of the next year, Jenna Myers and Taeho Kim. Dr. Jenna E. Myers joined us on June 1st, 2021. Jenna recently completed her doctorate in Work and Organizations at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Dr. Taeho Kim will be joining us on April 1, 2022. He recently completed his doctorate in economics at the University of Chicago.

New Rotman Executive Program: People Analytics for HR: The online program, led by CIRHR Assistant Professor Greg Distelhorst, is designed to teach human resource professionals—including managers and directors from both the public and private sectors—how to understand, interpret, and apply data strategically. This partnership between CIRHR and Rotman’s Executive Programs is one of many opportunities for today’s HR, labour and management professionals to continue expanding their expertise with the CIRHR.
Click here for more information and to apply.

Conflict Resolution at Work: Hosted jointly by the University of Toronto's CIRHR and Lancaster House this two-day program features proven skills and strategies for managers and union representatives. Conflict resolution has long been identified as one of the key skills that union and employer representatives must possess to be successful in their roles. Drawing from extensive research and field testing, this program will provide training in the most effective skills and strategies for resolving workplace conflict. Emphasis will be on hands-on skills training and development of practical tools.
When: Monday, June 28 and Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET
Click here to register. 
NEW: Special promotion for graduates of the CIRHR, SAVE $150.

Upcoming Events and Webinars

Massive Disruptions and the 'New Normal': The Future Skills Research Lab and Palette Skills are hosting Massive Disruptions and the 'New Normal.' A panel of experts will discuss learning loss, skills deficits and catching up in the wake of COVID 19. Moderator: Brad Seward (Director of RIES, CIRHR Assistant Professor).
When: Tuesday, June 15, 2021, 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM ET
Where: Online via Zoom

Click here to register.

Ontario's Black Teachers – Negotiating the politics of Black Women’s Professional Working Lives: This presentation by the Toronto Workers' History Project (TWHP) features the stories of Black women teachers in 20th century Ontario. Considering that labour and employment were important markers in Black women’s lives, this presentation will rethink access to employment and uncover the ways Black women teachers crafted their professional identities. Black women’s professional career choices reflected complex negotiations that considered accreditation, geographic location, and discrimination in the workplace. As a result, teaching offered Black women a way to maximize occupational mobility within restrictive labour markets.
When: Tuesday, June 15, 2021, 7:00 PM ET
Where: Online via Zoom

Understanding the Changing Patterns of Work at Older Ages: Longer working lives offer many benefits, but achieving these can pose challenges for individuals, employers, and policymakers. In order to support older people to remain in paid work for longer, it is imperative that we have a better understanding of the lives of older workers, and in particular the kinds of changes that occur in people's working lives in their 50s and 60s. In this event, researchers from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) will present their findings from a new report, funded by the Centre for Ageing Better, that seeks to shed new light on the working lives of people in their 50s and 60s, and discuss the key implications for the future.
When: Thursday, June 17, 2021 8:30 AM - 9:45 AM ET
Where: Online

Click here to register.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures: Is strict discipline necessary to ensure workplace safety during the pandemic?: The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique safety concerns for workplaces and new headaches for employers and unions as they put in place measures to reduce the risk of transmission and respond to evolving public health restrictions. However, questions remain as to how far employers can go in enforcing pandemic-related health and safety policies and at what point unions are likely to push back on measures such as mandatory vaccinations and COVID-19 testing as excessively severe responses. In this webinar, seasoned advocates will examine the tension between workplace safety and personal autonomy and review the latest arbitral decisions that set out boundaries of workplace discipline in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When: Thursday, June 17, 2021, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM ET
Where: Online

Click here to register.

Lancaster House Summer Webinar Series: Lancaster House brings together the entire labour relations community and speakers represent a diversity of perspectives and include union and management lawyers, arbitrators, academics, and subject matter experts. These webinars provide an opportunity to join labour lawyers and subject matter experts discussing contentious, emerging, and perennially important issues in labour, employment, and human rights law. Topics include:

Call for Papers and Nominations

Call for Memories - An Oral History Project: The Toronto Workers' History Project (TWHP) is launching a new project to gather the memories of the old-timers in Toronto’s labour movement. So much of the history of the struggles of the city’s workers is available only in the stories that these women and men can tell. Who should be on the list to be interviewed? Anyone who made an important contribution to the struggles of working people in this city. They don’t have to have been president of their union. We want to cast the net widely. Send us names and contact information, with ages and health condition of these people, along with some information on what they contributed to labour’s cause. We’ll follow up and contact them.
Click here to access the interview nomination form.

Call for Papers: 51st Annual Conference of the International Association of Labour History Institutions (IALHI): This year’s IALHI conference is dedicated to the role of youth movements and youth activism in broader social movements in past and present. Papers may address key areas of youth mobilization and youth movements’ patterns of organization, but also consequences of youth movements’ specificities for archivists and researchers. Papers must be submitted by June 20, 2021. 
Click here for more information on submission requirements.

Call for Proposals: The Global Labour Research Centre (GLRC)The GLRC is pleased to announce the 2021 Graduate Student Symposium: Critical Conversations in Work and Labour. Building on the tradition of GLRC annual conferences, this online series is designed to promote the scholarship of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Our goal is to create a series reflective of the wide range of themes and methodological and theoretical approaches pertaining to the study of work and labour. Please note the Symposium is open internationally. Submissions are limited to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early-career independent researchers. The deadline for submissions is Saturday, July 31, 2021, 11:59 pm ET.
Click here for more information on submission requirements.

Upcoming Publications and Conferences

19th ILERA World Congress: The 19th ILERA World Congress, Making and Breaking Boundaries in Work and Employment Relations, hosted by Lund University will take place virtually from Monday, June 21 to Thursday, June 24, 2021
Registration is now open! Click here to register.

Brave New Work Conference 2021: The Messy Middle of the Future of Work: The world of work has changed on all fronts, but what about the middle? That part of work between the leap from education into the labour market and the exit from the labour market after years of contribution, both economically and professionally. The Messy Middle is where workers between their second jobs and their second last jobs might find themselves if they experience labour disruption caused by digitization, globalization, evolving business models or a pandemic. Public Policy Forum’s Brave New Work Conference 2021 will explore the urgent policy conversation on what to do next.
When: Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM ET
Where: Online via Zoom

Click here to register.

eBook of the Week

Whistleblower: My Unlikely Journey to Silicon Valley and Speaking Out Against Injustice, by Susan Fowler. New York: Penguin Publishing Group, 2020. 268 p. eISBN 9780525560135 (ebook)

From the publisher: "Susan Fowler was just twenty-five years old when her blog post describing the sexual harassment and retaliation she'd experienced at Uber riveted the nation. Her post would eventually lead to the ousting of Uber's powerful CEO, but its ripples extended far beyond that, as her courageous choice to attach her name to the post inspired other women to speak publicly about their experiences. In the year that followed, an unprecedented number of women came forward, and Fowler was recognized by Time as one of the 'Silence Breakers' who ignited the #MeToo movement. Here, she shares her full story: a story of extraordinary determination and resilience that reveals what it takes—and what it means—to be a whistleblower."

PWR: work&labour news&research

Labour Unions

Human Resource Management

Labour Economics

Labour Unions


Labor Rights and Civil Rights: One Intertwined Struggle for all Workers

“The core idea behind ‘civil rights’ is that people should have the freedom to exist in political and social equality with one another. But under employment, an individual worker has a starkly unequal relationship with their employer. For workers to exist in the workplace without forfeiting their civil rights, they must be able to bargain on equal footing with their employers—that is, they need to have the ability to organize into unions among themselves. In this sense the movement for securing labor rights is not separate from the movement for securing civil rights—it is a fulfillment of those goals.”

“The true name of the 1963 'March on Washington,’ the largest political rally of the civil rights movement, was the 'March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.’ One of the major organizers of the March, A. Philip Randolph, was a labor organizer. The March on Washington’s goals were as concerned with Black Americans’ economic well-being as they were with their social standing. The core tenets of the movement included prohibiting discrimination in public or private hiring, establishing a $2 minimum wage (equivalent to roughly $17 in 2021), and expanding the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to include the majority-Black occupations the Act excluded at the time. … At that time, there was no separation between the ideas of civil rights and labor rights. It was understood that there could be no civic freedom without economic security. Today, many of our national narratives around the civil rights movement separate the struggle for the right to vote and the dissolution of segregated schools and lunch counters from that of raising the minimum wage and making it easier for workers to unionize, but this does a disservice to our history.”

“The struggle against racial oppression in the United States has always been aligned with the struggle against economic exploitation. Separating issues of racial equality from those of economic justice would abandon the civil rights movement’s core tenets. … Legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which seeks to empower workers with the freedom to hold fair union elections, represents a new step forward in the struggle toward achieving full civil and labor rights. By making it illegal for hostile employers to interfere with an election process, the PRO Act will allow workers who want a union to bring that form of democracy into their workplace. The expansion of the full rights of democracy to more people across more of their lives is the goal of the civil rights movement. Expanding the reach of unions should be seen as being in lockstep with this goal.”

Working Economics Blog, June 1, 2021: “Labor rights and civil rights: One intertwined struggle for all workers,” by Kyle K. Moore

Derenoncourt, E. & Montialoux, C. (2020). Minimum Wages and Racial Inequality. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 136 (1), 169–228.

Perea, F. (2011). The Echoes of Slavery: Recognizing the Racist Origins of the Agricultural and Domestic Worker Exclusion from the National Labor Relations Act. National Labor Relations Act 72, 95-138. (45 pages, PDF)

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Human Resource Management


To Create a Better Work Environment After COVID-19, We Must Truly Hear Employees

“During the first wave of the pandemic, our research team conducted a survey of three groups of essential workers in Nova Scotia — long-term care workers, retail workers and teachers. … Our survey focused primarily on how working conditions had an impact on their health and well-being, but because essential workers were receiving more media attention, we also asked participants to reflect on how the media covered their occupations.”

“We asked survey participants if the media focused on the most important issues of their work, and 69 per cent of participants responded ‘no’ versus 31 per cent who said 'yes.’ Broken down by group, retail workers were the most likely to say that the media was not covering the most important issues (75 per cent) followed by teachers (70 per cent) and long-term care workers (58 per cent).”

“Our participants’ frustrations with media coverage of their work during the first wave of the pandemic underscore the importance of intentionally including workers’ experiences in public dialogue about the economy and public policy. … After all, workers’ lived experiences are not interchangeable with broader questions about business and the labour market, nor can we understand workers’ experiences through a near exclusive focus on policy. Ignoring workers’ experiences leads to missed opportunities for understanding how policy and working conditions can improve.”

The Conversation, June 7, 2021: “To create a better work environment after COVID-19, we must truly hear employees,” by Elisabeth Rondinelli, Rachel K. Brickner, Rebecca Casey

The Nova Scotia Advocate, October 22, 2020: “Teachers, retail and long term care workers deeply affected by pandemic, preliminary results of study show – More participants still welcomed,” by Lisa Cameron

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The Pandemic Blew Up the American Office — For Better and Worse

“The COVID-19 pandemic will eventually abate, but it will leave behind a profound change in what it means to go to work. After being forced into a massive yearlong experiment in working from home, employers and employees alike have discovered that remote work not only is more feasible than they had thought but actually boosts productivity.”

“This shift in attitudes toward working from home is likely to stick, according to Nicholas Bloom, a professor of economics by courtesy at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Surveys of more than 30,000 Americans conducted by Bloom and his colleagues show that most full-time workers expect to continue working remotely at least two or three days a week. Bloom predicts that half of all American employees will work from home at least two days a week post-pandemic. The new normal will be hybrid arrangements in which about 20% of workdays will be carried out from home — a decrease from the pandemic peak but a fourfold increase in the WFH rate before last spring. … Bloom, working with Jose Maria Barrero of the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México and Steven J. Davis of the University of Chicago, has been regularly surveying thousands of working-age adults on this topic since May 2020. In their most recent survey, conducted in April, they found that about 30% of respondents were still primarily working from home. Overall, more than 60% said that working remotely had turned out better than they’d expected. In fact, the average employee said the value of working from home was a perk worth roughly 7% of their total paycheck.”

“Whatever it may look like, Bloom says, working from home is here to stay. The next challenge is how employers and employees navigate the transition to a new world in which there’s no such thing as just another day at the office. ‘This is a revolution, but we’re only halfway through it,’ he says.”

Stanford Business Insights, June 03, 2021: “The Pandemic Blew Up the American Office — For Better and Worse,” by Edmund L. Andrews

Stanford Business, April 21, 2021: Why Working from Home Will Stick, by Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas A. Bloom, Steven J. Davis. 

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Want to Teach Older Workers New Skills? Ask Younger Colleagues to Train Them.

“As technology becomes a bigger part of the learning curve, younger, less experienced team members might be better positioned to learn new tasks and to train others — a reversal of the traditional top-down model of on-the-job training. Young, digitally native medical assistants may learn a new electronic records system faster than their older counterparts. Similarly, surgical residents may learn the nuances of tools like the da Vinci surgical robot faster than older, more experienced doctors. So when a hospital is introducing a new system, administrators may decide to tap younger, less powerful team members to learn the new technology and train others on how to use it. While this strategy might make the most sense from a learning perspective, it can make older employees feel slighted and make it harder for teams to learn.”

“Singer and her coauthors, Katherine Kellogg and Jenna Myers of the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Lindsay Gainer of Mass General Brigham, studied observations from five different primary care settings over the course of nearly two years. At each, medical assistants and patient-service representatives had to learn several new digital technologies. Even though these positions are fairly low in the medical and administrative pecking order, Singer says that within these jobs, tenure and status are still important. So when younger employees were selected to be trainers, that threw the typical power balance off kilter. At some sites, employees struggled to pick up the skills they needed. ‘There were some groups where the training seemed to be taking and people seemed to be following on with the work that was intended,’ Singer says. 'But at other places it just wasn’t working out.’”

“Drawing on interviews with the trainers and the people learning the new tasks, the researchers discovered that teams that rotated the trainer position fared better than others. Getting to be a trainer comes with certain benefits. These positions give employees a little extra autonomy and responsibility and pave the way for promotions. By creating a system that gave everyone a chance at those opportunities, clinics could eliminate the jealousy and resentment that might come from selecting one younger employee over another time and time again.”

Stanford Business Insights, May 21, 2021: “Want to Teach Older Workers New Skills? Ask Younger Colleagues to Train Them,” by Sara Harrison

Kellogg, K.C., Myers, J.E., Gainer, L. & Singer, S.J. (2020). Moving Violations: Pairing an Illegitimate Learning Hierarchy with Trainee Status Mobility for Acquiring New Skills When Traditional Expertise Erodes. Organization Science 32 (1), 181-209 (30 pages, PDF)

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It’s Time to Reimagine Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

“A great deal of noble and important work has been done on DEI in recent years, but we have hit a ceiling. … That’s largely because diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives tend to select a core set of visible demographic minorities, segment people into these groups, and assume they define the workplace experience. In reality, of course, individuals are made up of a multiplicity of identities. A Black employee can also identify as LGBTQ and be a caregiver for an elderly parent. A white male employee might have a physical disability and work visa considerations.”

“By relying on conventional demographic categories, companies reinforce two unintended consequences: creating a majority-versus-minority mindset that fuels divisiveness among the workforce and ignoring huge cohorts of the workforce who could benefit from DEI in the workplace. Leaders simply can’t expect a system built for the homogeneous workforce of yesterday to continue to be successful for a new and diverse generation. To deliver a step change in DEI, companies need to attack the problem from an entirely new perspective. They must:

  • Reframe why DEI benefits the organization
  • Reset who should be the focus of DEI efforts
  • Reinvent how to develop solutions”

“As we emerge from the pandemic, many organizations are seizing this moment to fundamentally rewrite the rules of the workplace. Using this approach, organizations can finally unlock what we believe to be the bold intent and aspiration of DEI at work: enabling each employee in the organization to thrive, which ultimately fuels long-term, sustainable business advantage for the company.”

Boston Consulting Group, May 26, 2021: It’s Time to Reimagine Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, by Gabrielle Novacek, Jean Lee, and Matt Krentz (20 pages, PDF)

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Labour Economics


Twenty Years of the Power Gap: How 15 Ontario Universities Compare

“Universities have been promising to fix the sector’s gender problem for decades, but women are still under-represented at almost every level, particularly in decision-making roles, among full professors and senior faculty positions, and in the highest-earning echelons. The Globe and Mail collected and analyzed public sector salary records in Ontario going back to 1999 to better understand this lack of progress.”

“In order to ensure a fair comparison between the years, The Globe adjusted for inflation during salary-related analysis. When Ontario passed the sunshine law in the 1990s, it determined that only employees who earned $100,000 would be subject to disclosure. That number hasn’t changed, but if it had moved with inflation, the new threshold would be $147,537 in 2019. In calculating data points such as overall representation, The Globe only captured employees who would qualify for disclosure if the threshold had kept pace with inflation.”

“The overall story is that, two decades ago, nine out of 10 university employees on the Ontario sunshine list were men, as were nine out of 10 professors, nine out of 10 deans and three-quarters of vice presidents. In the ensuing 20 years, schools made notable progress hiring more women, such that they now represent about one-third of university staff. Representation in leadership has also improved significantly – though the bulk of new hires are concentrated in lower-level, less prestigious jobs.”

The Globe and Mail, June 5, 2021: “Twenty Years of the Power Gap: How 15 Ontario Universities Compare,” by Chen Wang and Robyn Doolittle

University-Specific Data: Brock • Carleton • Guelph • Laurentian • McMaster • Ottawa • Queens • 
Ryerson • Toronto • Trent • Waterloo • Western • Wilfrid Laurier • Windsor • York

PWR: work&labour news&research, January 26, 2021: “This is the Power Gap”

Momani, B., Dreher, E. and Williams, K. (2019). More Than a Pipeline Problem: Evaluating the Gender Pay Gap in Canadian Academia from 1996 to 2016. Canadian Journal of Higher Education 49 (1). (21 pages, PDF)

Locked Out of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Keep Women From Rising to the Top

“Canadian evolutionary biologist Maydianne Andrade is a world-famous spider expert who specializes in the mating habits of cannibalistic black widows. That’s the job she was hired to do. But during her first week as a professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough in 2000, she had a second role imposed upon her, one that continues to steal time away from promoting her research, working in her lab, applying for grants and writing about her discoveries. ‘From Day 1, people asked me: 'Can you talk to me about being a woman in science? Can you talk to me about being a Black women in science?” Prof. Andrade says. 'I did not come into science deciding to be an activist… Gender, race and intersectionality were just dragged into every aspect of my career.’”

“As part of the ongoing Power Gap series, an investigation into gender inequities in the modern work force, The Globe examined Ontario’s public sector salary records going back to 1999. Compared with colleges, hospitals and public health bodies, school boards and Crown corporations, the university sector displayed the clearest lack of improvement on gender. … At Ontario universities, there has been a significant increase in the overall representation of women. In 1999, about one in 10 six-figure earners were women. In 2019, it was one in three. But those gains have primarily occurred in lower-level, less prestigious jobs.”

“So why has change been so slow? Women in academia contend with the same challenges women in other sectors face, including work interruptions like maternity leave and the burden of unpaid care work at home. But female academics also have to battle deeply engrained societal biases that see women as teachers and men as professors. Female professors receive less research funding than men, get less support from their institutions when starting out, win fewer grants and have a harder time getting published. … Men are more likely to collaborate on research with other men, papers written by men are more likely to be cited by other academics, and women are held to higher standards in the peer-review process, so it’s harder to get published in the first place.”

The Globe and Mail, June 4, 2021: “Locked out of the ivory tower: How universities keep women from rising to the top,” by Chen Wang and Robyn Doolittle

Hengel, E. (2017). Publishing while Female. Are women held to higher standards? Evidence from peer review. (3 pages, PDF)

West, J.D., Jacquet, J., King, M.M., Correll, S.J., and Bergstrom, C.T. (2013). The Role of Gender in Scholarly Authorship. PLoS ONE 8(7). 

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‘It’s Not Going to Change’: The Long and Short of Canada’s Job Vacancy Problem

“From construction to manufacturing to hospitality, all sorts of industries are having trouble finding workers, raising questions about how quickly the economy can return to full steam, even as provinces slowly reopen, and whether wage hikes will be needed to entice people back to work, thereby fuelling inflationary pressures. Both the health risk of returning to work and the attraction of existing government benefits could keep some workers sidelined, and there are longer-term issues to overcome, such as a lack of immigration and a lack of interest in certain types of work, particularly in the trades. As a result, some economists expect vacancies will only increase as the economic recovery starts to ramp up.”

“Statistics Canada found 4.1 per cent of jobs in this country — an estimated 632,700 positions — were vacant in March, the latest month for which data is available. That’s roughly 100 basis points higher than pre-pandemic levels. … To have so many jobs unfilled at a time when so many are out of work — Canada’s unemployment rate was 8.2 per cent in May, with another 68,000 jobs lost, according to Statistics Canada on June 4 — wouldn’t normally make much sense. It’s a concept that economists refer to as the Beveridge curve, which charts the relationship between unemployment and job vacancy: high unemployment should coincide with low job vacancy — at least in a stable, efficient economy.”

“But Canada’s labour problems, though exacerbated by the pandemic, did not start in the pandemic. In its spring business outlook survey, the Bank of Canada in April warned that 'Pre-pandemic labour constraints are starting to return.’ … The shortage of skilled tradespeople has become a perennial problem in Canada, with sagging interest from new generations to enter them and more and more veteran tradespeople retiring.”

The Financial Post, June 4, 2021: “'It’s not going to change’: The long and short of Canada’s job vacancy problem,” by Jake Edmiston and Stephanie Hughes

CIBC, May 26, 2021: Where have all the workers gone? Surging job vacancy rates post-pandemic (6 pages, PDF)

BMO, June 3, 2021: All Our Representatives Are Busy; Please Hold. Your Call Is Important To Us, by Jennifer Lee

CFIB, May 27, 2021: Business Barometer, May 2021 SME business outlook survey results, by Andreea Bourgeois (3 pages, PDF)

Statistics Canada, May 27, 2021: Payroll employment, earnings and hours, and job vacancies, March 2021 (9 pages, PDF)

Statistics Canada, June 4, 2021: Labour Force Survey, May 2021 (47 pages, PDF)

In the United States: Workers Are Gaining Leverage Over Employers Right Before Our Eyes

“The relationship between American businesses and their employees is undergoing a profound shift: For the first time in a generation, workers are gaining the upper hand. The change is broader than the pandemic-related signing bonuses at fast-food places. Up and down the wage scale, companies are becoming more willing to pay a little more, to train workers, to take chances on people without traditional qualifications, and to show greater flexibility in where and how people work. The erosion of employer power began during the low-unemployment years leading up to the pandemic and, given demographic trends, could persist for years.”

“March had a record number of open positions, according to federal data that goes back to 2000, and workers were voluntarily leaving their jobs at a rate that matches a historical high. Burning Glass Technologies, a firm that analyzes millions of job listings a day, found that the share of postings that say 'no experience necessary’ is up two-thirds over 2019 levels, while the share of those promising a starting bonus has doubled. People are demanding more money to take a new job. The 'reservation wage,’ as economists call the minimum compensation workers would require, was 19 percent higher for those without a college degree in March than in November 2019, a jump of nearly $10,000 a year, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

“This recalibration between worker and employer partly reflects a strange moment: The economy is reopening, but many would-be workers are not ready to return to the job. Yet in key respects, the shift builds on changes already underway in the tight labor market preceding the pandemic, when the unemployment rate was 4 percent or lower for two straight years. That follows decades in which union power declined, unemployment was frequently high and employers made an art out of shifting work toward contract and gig arrangements that favored their interests over those of their employees. It would take years of change to undo those cumulative effects.”

The New York Times, June 5, 2021: “Workers Are Gaining Leverage Over Employers Right Before Our Eyes,” by Neil Irwin

The Conference Board, May 2021: The Reimagined Workplace a Year Later: Human Capital Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic, by Frank Steemers, Robin Erickson, Gad Levanon, and Rebecca L. Ray (13 pages, PDF)

The Ezra Klein Show, (The New York Times), June 8, 2021: “Employers Are Begging for Workers. Maybe That’s a Good Thing” by Ezra Klein, (1:04:48, podcast) (Transcript)

PwC, January 12, 2021: It’s time to reimagine where and how work will get done

The Century Foundation, October, 20, 2020, updated June 2, 2021: Unemployment Insurance Data Dashboard

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, June 1, 2021: The Divergent Signals about Labor Market Slack, by Troy Gilchrist and Bart Hobijn (6 pages, PDF)

Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), updated April 2021: Job Openings: Total Nonfarm

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Slow Jobs Recovery and Increased Inequality Risk Long-Term COVID-19 Scarring

“The labour market crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and employment growth will be insufficient to make up for the losses suffered until at least 2023, according to a new assessment by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO’s World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021  (WESO Trends) projects the global crisis-induced ‘jobs gap’ will reach 75 million in 2021, before falling to 23 million in 2022. The related gap in working-hours, which includes the jobs gap and those on reduced hours, amounts to the equivalent of 100 million full-time jobs in 2021 and 26 million full-time jobs in 2022. This shortfall in employment and working hours comes on top of persistently high pre-crisis levels of unemployment, labour underutilization and poor working conditions.”

“In consequence, global unemployment is expected to stand at 205 million people in 2022, greatly surpassing the level of 187 million in 2019. This corresponds to an unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent. Excluding the COVID-19 crisis period, such a rate was last seen in 2013. … Global employment recovery is projected to accelerate in the second half of 2021, provided that there is no worsening in the overall pandemic situation. However this will be uneven, due to unequal vaccine access and the limited capacity of most developing and emerging economies to support strong fiscal stimulus measures. Furthermore, the quality of newly created jobs is likely to deteriorate in those countries.”

“Globally, youth employment fell 8.7 per cent in 2020, compared with 3.7 per cent for adults, with the most pronounced fall seen in middle-income countries. The consequences of this delay and disruption to the early labour market experience of young people could last for years. The pandemic’s impact on young people’s labour market prospects is laid out in greater detail in an ILO brief published alongside the WESO Trends. The Update on the youth labour market impact of the COVID-19 crisis  also finds that gender gaps in youth labour markets became more pronounced.”

ILO, June 2, 2021: Slow jobs recovery and increased inequality risk long-term COVID-19 scarring

ILO, June 2, 2021: World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 (164 pages, PDF)

ILO, June 2, 2021: An update on the youth labour market impact of the COVID-19 crisis (14 pages, PDF)

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Understanding the Gender Pension Gap

“Increasing attention is being given to the ‘gender pension gap’ – the fact that on average women have lower private pension wealth and lower income in retirement than men. But before rushing to conclusions about how to ‘fix’ this, it is crucial to understand the drivers of any pension differences. This will determine what policy intervention – if indeed, any – may be desirable.”

“There are three main potential drivers of a difference in private pension wealth or income between men and women:

  1. Different labour market experiences: the ‘gender pay gap’, or differing lengths of working life among men and women;
  2. Different saving rates: men and women may differ in how likely they are to be offered a pension in their job, or tend to work for employers that contribute more or less to a pension, or tend to make different contributions themselves;
  3. Different investment strategies (in the case of defined contribution pensions): men or women may choose to invest in portfolios with a higher expected rate of return.”

“In a first publication we have documented differences in average pension saving between male and female employees before the introduction of automatic enrolment. This shows that on average across all employees (whether saving in a pension or not) women of all ages actually contributed more as a proportion of their earnings each year than men. However, this was driven by the fact that women are more likely to work in the public sector, where contribution rates are typically higher. Examining average pension saving among men and women within each sector reveals a different pattern: the average saving rates of male and female employees were similar until around age 35 but then diverged – with average contributions continuing to increase with age for men but not changing for women.”

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), May 11, 2021: Understanding the gender pension gap, by Rowena Crawford and Laurence O'Brien

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), May 10, 2021: When should individuals save for retirement? Predictions from an economic model of household saving behaviour, by Rowena Crawford, Laurence O'Brien and David Sturrock (52 pages, PDF)

Prospect, March 3, 2021: What is the gender pension gap?

OECD, March 2020: Wide gap in pension benefits between men and women

Veremchuk, A. (2020). Gender Gap in Pension Income: Cross-Country Analysis and Role of Gender Attitudes. Available at SSRN:

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