Urban Institute Book Looks at Preparing
Workforce for Labor Market Turmoil
The U.S. labor market has seen changes over the past few decades, and further turmoil is expected as the population ages and immigration and offshoring of jobs continue.
A new Urban Institute Press book says that policies promoting education and skill development among American workers will be crucial in responding to shocks buffeting the U.S. workforce.
In Reshaping the American Workforce in a Changing Economy, experts forecast the labor market's future and investigate the policy options for counteracting significant workforce tremors. The book is edited by Harry J. Holzer, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University and visiting fellow at the Urban Institute, and Demetra Smith Nightingale, a principal research scientist at The Johns Hopkins University's Institute for Policy Studies and senior research consultant at the Urban Institute.
"If a growing demand for skilled labor is not matched by a comparable trend in supply, then labor market inequality will likely continue to grow in the United States," write Holzer and Nightingale. "And, while labor markets will respond to these developments with a variety of adjustments ... output and productivity growth might be constrained by a relative dearth of skilled workers."
The new volume addresses many timely policy questions. How, for example, can public policy help meet employer needs for different types of workers? What ways are available to encourage education and training, especially options that require fewer public resources? How can we make sure that new education and training opportunities are equitable? What must be done beyond public policy to raise the supply of appropriately educated and skilled workers?
Reshaping the American Workforce in a Changing Economy showcases a dozen labor market experts:
Richard Freeman of Harvard University addresses likely trends in the labor market, particularly the effects of retirements and offshoring.
Burt Barnow and Demetra Smith Nightingale, both from Johns Hopkins, review current federal and state workforce policies.
Robert Lerman, at the Urban Institute, focuses on career training for youth in high school and beyond.
Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia discusses the access of lower-income youth and young adults to higher education.
Paul Osterman of MIT writes about training for less- educated workers.
Dan Bloom and David Butler, both from MDRC, focus on "hard-to-employ" adults and their job prospects.
George Borjas of Harvard University deals with efforts to increase the supply of skilled workers through immigration policy.
Alicia Munnell of Boston College writes about increasing the pool of skilled workers through retirement policy.
Gary Burtless, at the Brookings Institution, discusses ways to insure workers against the adverse effects of job displacement and poor health.
Jane Waldfogel from Columbia University reviews policies promoting a balance between work and family responsibilities.
"The volume contains several solid proposals that could mitigate the workforce problems we already face and those that are sure to grow," writes Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "This is a timely, provocative and wise book."
Reshaping the American Workforce in a Changing Economy, edited by Harry J. Holzer and Demetra Nightingale Smith, is available from the Urban Institute Press for $29.50 (344 pages, ISBN 0-87766-735-7). Order online at www.uipress.org, call 202-261-5687, or dial 1-877-847-7377 toll-free.
The Urban Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization that examines the social, economic, and governance challenges facing the nation.
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