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Harry Holzer

Affiliated Scholar
Center on Labor, Human Services and Population

Harry J. Holzer is a Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University and a Visiting Fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington DC. He is a former Chief Economist for the U.S. Department of Labor and a former Professor of Economics at Michigan State University. He received his A.B. from Harvard in 1978 and his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard in 1983. He is a Senior Affiliate of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, a Research Affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a National Fellow of the Program on Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard University, and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Holzer?s research has focused primarily on the labor market problems of low-wage workers and other disadvantaged groups. His books include The Black Youth Employment Crisis (coedited with Richard Freeman, University of Chicago Press, 1986); What Employers Want: Job Prospects for Less-Educated Workers (Russell Sage Foundation, 1996); Employers and Welfare Recipients: The Effects of Welfare Reform in the Workplace (with Michael Stoll, Public Policy Institute of California, 2001); Moving Up or Moving On: Who Advances in the Low-Wage Labor Market? (with Fredrik Andersson and Julia Lane, Russell Sage Foundation, 2005); Reconnecting Disadvantaged Young Men (with Peter Edelman and Paul Offner, Urban Institute Press, 2006); and Reshaping the American Workforce for a Changing Economy (edited with Demetra Nightingale, Urban Institute Press, 2007).


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Expanding Economic Opportunity for Young Men and Boys of Color through Employment and Training (Occasional Paper)
Shayne Spaulding, Robert I. Lerman, Harry Holzer, Lauren Eyster

Young men of color have long experienced lower earnings and higher unemployment compared to young white men. Many factors have contributed to these negative outcomes: persistent discrimination, hiring practices of employers, geographic and social isolation, substandard secondary education, lack of career and postsecondary educational guidance, inadequate career and technical education, and higher incarceration rates. This paper focuses on promising strategies for improving the labor market outcomes of low-income young men of color. It outlines an employment-focused approach to improving economic opportunities and outcomes for these young men, highlighting potential policy, system and institutional reforms as well as program investments.

Posted to Web: February 04, 2015Publication Date: February 04, 2015

A Very Uneven Road: US Labor Markets in the Past 30 Years (Occasional Paper)
Harry Holzer, Marek Hlavac

In this paper we use data from the Current Population Survey to summarize labor market trends in the U.S. over the past 30 years. First we focus on secular trends over the four years (and three cycles) that constitute labor market peaks during this period: 1979, 1989, 2000, and 2007. Then we consider peak-to-trough changes in employment outcomes for each of the four recessions that have occurred in this period, including the Great Recession. Overall we find great unevenness in labor market performance across cycles and across demographic groups. Inequality has widened dramatically and important structural changes have occurred.

Posted to Web: April 30, 2012Publication Date: October 01, 2011

Raising Job Quality and Skills for American Workers: Creating More-Effective Education and Workforce Development Systems in the States (Research Report)
Harry Holzer

To improve the employment rates and earnings of Americans workers, we need to create more-coherent and more-effective education and workforce development systems, focusing primarily (though not exclusively) on disadvantaged youth and adults, and with education and training more clearly targeted towards firms and sectors that provide good-paying jobs. This paper proposes a new set of competitive grants from the federal government to states that would fund training partnerships between employers in key industries, education providers, workforce agencies, and intermediaries at the state level, plus a range of other supports and services. The grants would especially reward the expansion of programs that appear successful when evaluated with randomized controlled trial (RCT) techniques. The evidence suggests that these grants could generate benefits that are several times larger than their costs, including higher earnings and lower unemployment rates among the disadvantaged.

Posted to Web: December 07, 2011Publication Date: November 30, 2011

Where Are All the Good Jobs Going? (Book)
Harry Holzer, Additional Authors

In this book the authors analyze trends in the creation of "good jobs" over time, and in the skills workers need to obtain these jobs, using a unique measure of job quality. They use the Longtiudinal Employer Household Dynamics (LEHD) data from the Census Bureau for 12 states to analyze these trends. They also consider the impacts of job displacements from good-paying jobs, and also trends across different kinds of metropolitan areas. The authors find that the US labor market continues to create good jobs, but that workers increasingly need higher levels of skill and education to obtain them. They consider the implications of these findings for a range of policies on education and job training as well as economic development.

Posted to Web: October 20, 2011Publication Date: January 01, 2011

An Uneven Road, Then a Cliff: US Labor Markets, 2000-10 (Research Report)
Harry Holzer, Marek Hlavac

In this paper we analyze labor market outcomes over the business cycle from 2000-07, as well as the labor market effects of the Great Recession since 2008. We use data from the Current Population Surveys (CPS) to analyze these outcomes. We find that hourly wages grew only modestly for most groups, and annual earnings stagnated, between 2000 and 2007. Young and less-educated men did relatively poorly, while highly-educated and high-earning workers did relatively well, especially among women. During the recession, the groups that fared badly during the preceding economic cycle were also the ones hardest hit during the downturn. A slow recovery is forecast from the recession, and we likely will return to a relatively weak labor market afterwards. The implications of these findings for policy are considered.

Posted to Web: October 20, 2011Publication Date: April 26, 2011

Promoting Job Creation in the U.S.: Testimony before the Budget Committee of the United States Senate (Testimony)
Harry Holzer

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, Harry Holzer looks at unemployment and the labor market over the next several years.

Posted to Web: September 20, 2011Publication Date: September 20, 2011

Immigration Policy and Less-Skilled Workers in the United States: Reflections on Future Directions for Reform (Discussion Papers)
Harry Holzer

This paper reviews the evidence on the effects of less-skilled immigration to the U.S., and considers the implications of this evidence for immigration reform ideas. It begins with a review of the costs of less-skilled immigration, in terms of competition to native-born American workers and fiscal costs; as well as the benefits of such immigration in the form of lower prices to consumers, higher profits for employers, and greater efficiency for the U.S. economy. The paper then reviews various reform ideas that have been proposed in Congress in recent years, and also considers a range of other ideas, that would likely raise the net benefits associated with less-skilled immigration to the U.S.

Posted to Web: January 21, 2011Publication Date: January 01, 2011

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish: Why Fighting Child Poverty in the Great Recession Makes Sense (Research Report)
Harry Holzer

Child poverty generates serious long-term economic costs not only for those children (when they become adults), but for the U.S. economy as a whole. This paper argues that these long-term costs will rise because of the Great Recession, as child poverty rises substantially and remains elevated for years to come. Children growing in newly poor families, and/or those whose parents suffer permanent job loss, will likely have worse educational and employment outcomes. Those young people who enter the labor market during this period will suffer reduced earnings as well. This will impose fiscal as well as economic costs on the U.S. in the future. Investments to reduce child poverty in both the short and long-terms thus make economic sense for the U.S., despite the nation’s ongoing fiscal crisis.

Posted to Web: September 21, 2010Publication Date: September 16, 2010

Reducing Poverty and Economic Distress after ARRA: Next Steps for Short-Term Recovery and Long-Term Economic Security (Summary)
Peter Edelman, Olivia Golden, Harry Holzer

Even though children in the United States have higher poverty rates than adults and the elderly, federal spending on kids is disproportionately small and has been shrinking for years. The recession threatened to eat away further at those investments, prompting the president and Congress to temporarily boost funding for some two dozen federal programs that benefit children. To support the development of children in low-income families, we recommend making some of those provisions permanent. We also propose new investments in the preschool and postsecondary years when public spending is at its lowest, while also experimenting with new initiatives to support low-income children.

Posted to Web: July 15, 2010Publication Date: July 15, 2010

Avoiding a Lost Generation: How to Minimize the Impact of the Great Recession on Young Workers: Before the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress (Testimony)
Harry Holzer

Expert Harry Holzer testifies that 2009 and 2010 have been among the worst years ever recorded for teen unemployment, averaging 25 percent. Prospects for young African Americans are especially grim, with unemployment around 40 percent. But we can help youth into the labor market—during the "Great Recession" and beyond—through an aggressive policy agenda. Existing programs that could be more fully funded are YouthBuild, the Youth Service and Conservation Corps, Year Up, the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe, Gateways, and Youth Opportunities. While these would cost federal funds, the costs of not investing in our vulnerable youth will be far greater.

Posted to Web: June 24, 2010Publication Date: May 26, 2010

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