Building Job Quality from the Inside-Out: Immigrants, Skill, and Jobs in the Construction Industry

Building Job Quality from the Inside-Out: Immigrants, Skill, and Jobs in the Construction Industry
Industrial Labor Relations Review. 66(4): 785-807.

Iskander, N. and N. Lowe

Using an ethnographic case study of Mexican immigrant construction workers in two U.S. cities and in Mexico, the authors illustrate the contribution of immigrant skill as a resource for changing workplace practices. As a complement to explanations that situate the protection of job quality and the defense of skill to external institutions, the authors show that immigrants use collective learning practices to improve job quality from inside the work environment—that is to say from the inside-out. The authors also find that immigrants use collective skill-building practices to negotiate for improvements to their jobs; however, their ability to do so depends on the institutions that organize production locally. Particular attention is given to the quality of those industry institutions, noting that where they are more malleable, immigrant workers gain more latitude to alter their working conditions and their prospects for advancement.

Policy Influence, Agency-Specific Expertise, and Exit in the Federal Service

Policy Influence, Agency-Specific Expertise, and Exit in the Federal Service
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, v. 23, n. 2 (2013). doi: 10.1093/jopart/mus044.

Anthony M. Bertelli and David E. Lewis

Executive turnover influences agency performance, policy implementation, and ultimately the success of legislative delegations. We argue that turnover intention is a function of labor market opportunities—specifically, outside employment opportunities and the acquisition of nontransferable, agency-specific human capital—as well as perceptions about the way in which political decisions have affected federal executive influence over policymaking. Statistical evidence for these claims is provided using data from the 2007–2008 Survey on the Future of Government Service, the largest ever survey of US federal executives. Agency-specific human capital drives down turnover intention in our estimates. The availability of outside options has the opposite effect except in cases where the executive has invested a lot in agency-specific human capital. Turnover intention increases when an agency’s senior executives have little influence over policy. We draw out the implications of these findings for our understanding of federal labor markets, the construction of civil service systems, and the politicization of executive branch agencies.

Migration and development, global South / Mexico-Morocco

Migration and development, global South / Mexico-Morocco
I. Ness, ed. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. Wiley Blackwell

Iskander, N.

In recent years, the relationship between migration and development has received renewed attention, and analysts, policy-makers, and development experts have returned to the question of how to use emigration to foster economic growth in countries and communities of origin. The main thrust of this inquiry has focused on how to use remittances – the monies that migrants send back home – to support economic activity (de la Garza & Orozco 2002; Orozco 2002; Munzele Maimbo & Ratha 2005; Ratha 2005). However, among countries with high emigration rates, a handful of governments have expanded their emphasis past remittances to create policies that link emigration and development in a more comprehensive way (Castles & Delgado Wise 2008). Morocco and Mexico feature prominently among them. Both countries have policies to link emigration with local and national economic transformation that reach beyond a narrow focus on remittances, and that, more importantly, are creative, participatory, and dynamic (Iskander 2010). At their outset, however, the policies were as single-minded in their focus on remittances as any of the more mercenary examples of today.

State Unemployment Insurance Trust Solvency and Benefit Generosity.

State Unemployment Insurance Trust Solvency and Benefit Generosity.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 32(3): 536-53.

Smith, Daniel L. and Jeffrey B. Wenger.

This paper employs panel estimators with data on the 50 American states for the years 1963 to 2006 to test the relationship between Unemployment Insurance (UI) trust fund solvency and UI benefit generosity. We find that both average and maximum weekly UI benefit amounts, as ratios to the average weekly wage, are higher in states and in years with more highly solvent trust funds. This result holds after controlling for state-level unemployment rate, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), population growth, legislative political ideology, partisan control of the executive and legislative branches, and gubernatorial election year across multiple specifications, including fixed-effects and dynamic panel estimators. We propose a theory of moderate coupling as the causal mechanism, whereby UI program benefits and financing are directly related but are not as tightly linked as in other social insurance programs, such as Medicaid. The findings have important policy implications for the funding of states’ UI systems. As a consequence of moderate coupling, the countercyclicality of the UI program is dampened. 

The Fiscal Challenge of an Aging Population in the U.S.

The Fiscal Challenge of an Aging Population in the U.S.
In The Oxford Handbook of Work and Aging, edited by Jerry W. Hedge and Walter C. Borman. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Sewin Chan

This chapter examines the fiscal challenge posed by the aging of the U.S. population. We summarize the likely future of U.S. demographics, focusing on the evolution of the dependency ratio. We describe the main U.S. government programs related to aging and assess their fiscal positions. Forecasts for the unfunded liabilities in these programs exceed $40 trillion. We provide a review of economic theory useful for understanding the likely economic impact of budget deficits. We evaluate the fiscal adjustment that is likely to be needed given the 2009 status of the U.S. fiscal position and predicted demographic changes: it is likely to be approximately 8% of GDP, which, while large, is an adjustment that has been managed by many countries in the past. Finally, we provide a brief survey of potential policies to address the fiscal challenge of aging, and of economic research evaluating such policies.

Above Board: Raising the Standards for Passenger Service Workers at the Nation's Busiest Airports

Above Board: Raising the Standards for Passenger Service Workers at the Nation's Busiest Airports

Mason, C. Nicole & Garcia, Lisette

I n the fall of 2011, the Women of Color Policy Network at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service conducted a survey of over 300 passenger service workers at the region's three major airports: LaGuardia, Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International.
Only workers contracted by the airlines were surveyed. This report focuses on the impact of the low-bid
contracting system on passenger service workers at the airports. It also proposes ways forward and concrete recommendations to raise job quality and performance standards for companies contracted directly with airlines.


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