A male office worker reads files at his desk

American Worker Blog Series

Photo by FotoAndalucia/Adobe Stock

To mark Labor Day 2017, RAND is happy to bring you our second American Worker blog series.

Much has happened since last year. On the labor market front, expansion of the economy has been robust, with two million jobs created in the last 12 months. While average weekly earnings growth has still not completely recovered from the Great Recession, it is on an upward trajectory, hovering close to three percent annual growth (PDF). The unemployment rate (4.3 percent) is approaching historic lows. But the labor force participation rate (the percentage of adults who are economically active) remains more than three percentage points lower than the 2007 rate.

This year, RAND celebrates 50 years of conducting research to improve the quality, productivity, and well-being of the American workforce. There is no better time to examine the state of the workforce, explore the challenges it faces, and assess possible policy solutions.

The fear of job displacement due to automation is on the top of many workers' minds. So it's fitting to start with an exploration of how one innovation, autonomous vehicles, is likely to impact the labor market. Nidhi Kalra discusses the types of jobs that are likely to be displaced by widespread use of autonomous vehicles and the policies that will help mitigate the negative impact.

Kathryn Edwards explores how more young workers are getting help from their parents, particularly in the form of housing. She discusses the factors causing this trend, including decreasing public assistance and high costs of housing, education, and child care.

Finally, Kathleen Mullen and Jeffrey Wenger discuss findings from the American Working Conditions Survey, which was conducted using the RAND American Life Panel. The survey finds that the workplace can be harsh, hostile, and hectic. But it can also be a source of support and satisfaction.

American Worker

Blog Posts