IZA World of Labor
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Opinions

IZA World of Labor articles provide concise, evidence-based analysis of policy-relevant topics in labor economics. We recognize that the articles will prompt discussion and possibly controversy. Opinion articles will capture these ideas and debates concisely, and anchor them with real-world examples. Opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of the IZA.

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  • March 20, 2017

    Not bad at all—the true state of the US labor market

    In his February 25 New York Times opinion piece “A time for immodest proposals” Ross Douthat quoted a right-leaning economist who stated that the US labor market is not doing well, with unemployment high and wages stagnating. This seems to be a general opinion, with Donald Trump complaining during the election campaign about high unemployment and Bernie Sanders arguing about falling living standards. With a carefully chosen base period for comparison, one can easily demonstrate either improving or declining conditions; but the correct basis is a time when unemployment is about the same as today’s 4.8%. As the figure shows, that time is 2000.

  • March 07, 2017

    Equal pay legislation and the gender wage gap

    Women earn less than men. In the US the gap is approximately 22%. Among OECD countries the gap averages 15%. One might argue this indicates rampant discrimination. But the story is far more complicated.

  • February 20, 2017

    Reducing unemployment is always on the government agenda

    Several conditions must be met for an increase in standard hours to have positive effects on employment. 

  • February 06, 2017

    Do/can firms benefit from training apprentices?

    Apprenticeships offer workers the chance to learn valuable occupational skills. Apprentices earn salaries, receive instruction in relevant concepts, contribute to production, and attain occupational qualifications. For many workers, apprenticeships are far more cost-effective in entering a rewarding career than a pure classroom approach. Employers pay the wages of apprentices, sometimes finance related courses, provide a setting for hands-on learning, and supply trainers to help apprentices achieve competence in the occupation. But, why should profit-seeking firms finance apprenticeships?

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