Labor

History Provides Inspiration for a Stronger Alliance Between Labor and Antimonopoly Advocates

Although the antimonopoly neo-Brandeisians and the labor movement share many goals, including a desire to reduce the power of big business, significant tensions exist, such as labor’s past support for mergers when they advance the ability of workers to unionize. Kate Andrias traces the history of labor’s relation with antitrust to show that, despite historical and contemporary tensions, there have also been deep connections between the two movements that show how they can better complement each other in the future.

Confidentiality Agreements Can Act Like Noncompetes

Noncompete agreements, which impose contractual limits on an employee’s ability to work after leaving a job, are regulated or banned in all states. But employers can potentially get around legal limitations on noncompetes by asking workers to sign confidentiality agreements that have similar functional effects. In a new article, Camilla A. Hrdy and Christopher B. Seaman provide empirical evidence that a significant number of employment agreements contain broad confidentiality provisions that place noncompete-like restrictions on workers.

Influencers Work in Opacity and Need Professional Organization

Excerpted from THE INFLUENCER INDUSTRY: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media © 2023 by Emily Hund. Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press.

Firms Sharing Board Members Can Collude To Reduce Worker Mobility

In new research, Taylor Begley, Peter Haslag, and Daniel Weagley find that when firms begin sharing a common director, there is a significant reduction in the number of employees that switch jobs between the two companies. The reduction is largest when the firms compete in the same labor market and for those employees who are most costly for firms to replace. The results show the link between overlapping board members and anticompetitive labor practices is a surprisingly widespread phenomenon.

The Kroger-Albertsons Merger Will Not Help Grocery Competition

Kroger and Albertsons say they need to merge to compete with Walmart. Claire Kelloway argues that what they really want is Walmart’s monopsony power, and permitting mergers on these grounds will only harm suppliers, workers, and consumers.

Why Claudia Goldin Won the Nobel

Marianne Bertrand describes the contributions of Claudia Goldin, this year's Nobel prize winner in economics, as well as her relationship with Goldin as a colleague.

Firm Consolidations Hurt Workers, But Likely Not Because of Market Power

In new research, Sabien Dobbelaere, Grace McCormack, Daniel Prinz, and Sándor Sóvágó find that mergers negatively impact labor market outcomes. Mergers result in job losses, and the earnings of workers who lose their jobs don’t recover for several years on average. The authors find these negative consequences are more likely attributable to the restructuring of labor forces than subsequent firm market power.

Labor Markets Are the New Frontier for Competition Policy

Do labor markets in Europe or the United States and Canada experience more monopsony power? In a new paper published in the University of Chicago Law Review, Satoshi Araki, Andrea Bassanini, Andrew Green, Luca Marcolin, and Cristina Volpin provide comparisons of monopsony power between the two regions, documenting similar levels of concentration across labor markets despite generally stronger protections in Europe. They also discuss the effects of such concentration on employment and wages, ending with potential regulatory reforms to address these issues.

What the Practice of Noncompetes in Italy Says About the Current American Debate

American antitrust regulators have recently taken aim at noncompete clauses. They argue that noncompetes suppress labor bargaining power and thus wages. The Italian labor market differs from its American counterpart in its rigid protections for labor, but the use of noncompetes in Italy occur at about the same rate as in the United States and shows a correlation with lower wages for workers whose noncompete clauses are unjustified because their jobs require little training and do not grant access to trade secrets. The evidence from Italy suggests that better regulation of noncompetes and informing workers of their rights is justified on the whole.

How Workers Adapt to the Threat of Local Employer Exploitation

In two recent papers, Matthew E. Kahn and Joseph Tracy examine the outcomes of local labor markets affected by monopsony power. They find that in areas with a high degree of monopsony power, workers earn lower wages but are compensated with lower house prices, at the expense of homeowners. Monopsony markets also experience a “brain drain” over time due to young, educated workers who leave for better opportunities. The rise of work-from-home may accelerate this dynamic by allowing talent to change labor markets without changing residences.

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