Welcome back to The Workweek, the Indeed Hiring Lab’s round-up of the latest research, news, and perspectives that made us think deeply or differently about the labor market this week. It’s your guide to the most important new insights about work.
Here are our picks for this week:
Criminal Record? No Problem, You’re Hired!
In another sign of the robust demand for workers, more US employers are hiring applicants with criminal records. The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 14 years, triggering major labor shortages in some industries, such as construction. In response, employers are taking a serious look at the 23 million Americans who’ve served prison time or carry a felony conviction. There’s no hard data to know for sure—the government doesn’t track the employment of those with criminal records—but anecdotal evidence is piling up. One straw in the wind: The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives has begun to help its members hire ex-offenders. [Bloomberg]
You May Think Your Pay Raise Was Too Little, But Some Economists Beg to Differ
Raises for American workers have been meager in recent years. But, believe it or not, some economists wonder why they’re as high as they are. That’s because wage growth closely tracks productivity and inflation. The faster prices rise, the more money workers demand to match the cost of living. And the more they produce, the more they can justify a raise. Both inflation and productivity growth have been dismally low of late. So, counterintuitive as it seems, recent wage growth has been running ahead of what might be expected. [New York Times]
The Gender Wage Gap Begins Early and Hits College-Educated Women Hardest
The gender wage gap—the earnings difference between men and women—grows fastest in the early career years, new research shows. And, compared with women with less education, those who have a college degree see their pay lag even further behind men as they age. For people between 25 and 40, earnings growth for college-educated men is 39% higher than for college-educated women. But the disparity is not as persistent among less-educated women: Those with a high school degree begin to close the gap on high-school-educated men later in life. [Wall Street Journal]
Does Your Work Schedule Keep You on Edge?
Why is economic anxiety so high when broad measures of the economy—like the current 4.4% unemployment rate—are so good? One answer might be unpredictable work hours. As more companies institute flexible work scheduling, often with little advance notice, family income can vary month-to-month. And that could make large expenses, such as doctor’s visits, tax payments or car repairs, hard to budget. What’s more, it’s not just fast-food and retail workers who have to juggle schedules on short-notice. Even middle-income households are seeing huge swings in monthly income, according to an analysis of 250,000 bank accounts by the JPMorgan Chase Institute. [New York Times]
Lesson from the Baby Boomers: If You Want a Big Raise, Don’t Grow Old
Wage growth has been tepid and a big part of that puzzle is Baby Boomers, writes Conor Sen. Wages grow more slowly as you get older. Breaking down wage growth by age shows that younger workers are seeing strong gains: Median growth for workers age 16 to 24 is a hefty 7.5%. But, for Boomers, it’s a far different story. For starters, there are a lot of them. And many of these Boomers saw their retirement savings shrink during the Great Recession. This means older workers are working longer than ever before—one reason wage growth is only 2.2% for those over 54. [Bloomberg View]