Up Next

Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Kenan Institute 2024 Grand Challenge: Business Resilience
Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues



During the institute’s monthly press briefing April 5, Research Fellow Greg Brown presented thoughts on what’s needed to extend a period of job growth and lower inflation.

During the institute's monthly press briefing March 8, Chief Economist Gerald Cohen discussed another solid jobs report, in which the U.S. economy added 275,000 jobs for February.

The increasing demand for electric cars is creating new opportunities for jobs and innovation in new locations, but there are differing views of the potential effect on overall auto sector jobs.

The institute has teamed up to work with Fifth Third Commercial Bank Chief Economist Jeff Korzenik on research into second-chance hiring. In his new opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, Korzenik discusses Japan’s “miracle” workforce expansion and what the U.S. can learn from it.

A recent meta-analysis from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Professor Elad Sherf and co-authors examines the literature on "seeking behavior" at work – such as asking for information, feedback or help. Why does it matter and how can it be harnessed to the benefit of both employers and employees?

Research indicates that groups are most effective at achieving gender equity goals when men and women advocate together.

A last-minute deal averted a rail strike last week, but it highlights how staffing shortages in the industry as well as in education, hospitality and healthcare are pushing workers to push back, writes The Washington Post. Jobs with long hours and rigid schedules that lack competitive pay and benefits are proving the most difficult to fill, Director of Research Paige Ouimet said. “Running your workers like this – asking them to do 20, 30 percent more because you’re short staffed – it’s very much a short-term strategy,” Ouimet said. “You’re going to keep losing people.”

COVID-19 first caused chaos in our labor markets with the lockdowns of 2020, which sent unemployment rates soaring to all-time highs. It has continued to disrupt labor markets into 2022 as worries about health risks have kept workers at home, exasperating labor shortages. Looking forward, as we learn to live with COVID, we will also have to adapt to the effects of long COVID, when symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty breathing and “brain fog” appear after COVID. In this commentary, I attempt to assess the risk to our labor markets from long COVID.

Last month our home state of North Carolina was named “America’s Top State for Business” by CNBC (see the full ranking here). It wasn’t long after when some commentators pointed out that Oxfam had recently ranked N.C. as the worst state for workers. The extreme juxtaposition of rankings made me wonder if this was a coincidence or if there are systematic factors that make states good for businesses and bad for workers. Perhaps “right-to-work” laws, lax worker protection regulation or regional wage differences attract businesses looking to take advantage of areas with weak labor bargaining power. This in turn leads to business growth and thus job migration to states that are less desirable for individual workers. At the end of the day, economic planning should have the best interest of residents in mind when crafting business policy, so it seems worth unpacking what drives the rankings.

Unions seem to be popping up everywhere these days. In fact, the National Labor Relations Board reported that requests for union elections during the last nine months are up 58% over the prior fiscal year. This trend has received significant coverage in the media, with particular interest in successful organization efforts at Amazon, Starbucks and Apple.

Seventeen states have enacted salary transparency laws to combat pay gaps historically experienced by people of color and women, but the laws take different forms and have produced varying results. How does requiring companies to provide summary salary statistics compare with, for example, preventing companies from asking applicants about their previous salaries? Can such laws actually work against employees? Two experts address these questions and more in this week’s Kenan Insight.

With the school year winding down, we invited Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute Fellow and UNC-Chapel Hill Public Policy Research Professor Iheoma Iruka to join us for a discussion on the business of childcare and early education – as well as the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted families’ expectations and workers’ needs