University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Jobs, skills, and policy for lower-wage workers

This issue of Fast Focus is based on the presentations made by a group of economists, sociologists, and public policy and education experts at a national working conference hosted by IRP in March 2011, with financial support from the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The “Employment Prospects for Lower-Wage Workers: Easing the Implications of a Slow Recovery” conference, which was organized by Robert Haveman, Carolyn Heinrich, and Timothy Smeeding, featured presentations by leading researchers on the sources of U.S. labor market polarization and its impacts  on workers with varying types and levels of skills. Issues of technological change, job-outsourcing, the decline of trade unions, and the effect of minimum wages were assessed. Conference participants explored the consequences of these developments on a variety of economic and social phenomena, including the growth of wage and income inequality, the demand for public transfers, and the health and well-being of displaced workers and their families. To view the conference PowerPoint presentations, visit IRP’s Web site at and search for “employment conference.”


Education & Training, Employment, Job Training, Low-Wage Work