The Workweek: A Round-Up of Labor Market Links for the Week Ending 4/21/17

This week’s labor market news on H1-B Visa program and the death of the retail store

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:

The long, slow death of the retail store

While online retail sales are a long established fact, the impact of more consumers choosing to shop with their computer mouse and not in person finally appears to be coming to a head. Retail store closures are on pace this year to surpass the amount that closed during the worst of the Great Recession, but the detrimental effects extend well beyond a surplus of empty retail space. This interesting piece details the plight of the modern retail worker and what likely lies ahead. (The New York Times)

The truth about Millennials  

The standard caricature of Millennials is that they are restless in their careers, always looking for the next opportunity and don’t feel much loyalty to their employers. In fact, most government data actually show the opposite. New work from the Pew Research Center adds further evidence to counter that negative image of Millennials and also finds that employer switching is down for all generations, which is likely due in part to the rise of dual-career households and the decline of middle-skill jobs. (Pew Research Center)

The H-1B visa program

President Trump this week signed an executive order directing federal agencies to consider changes to employment immigration laws that would promote his ‘Hire American’ agenda, raising fears that it could soon be more difficult to employ foreign-born workers. This explainer covers the basics of one of the more well-known programs, the H-1B temporary visa, including how these visas are allocated, what types of companies employ visa holders, and what changes could be in store for the program. (The New York Times)

Informal work arrangements

The informal labor market is typically associated with illicit activity, developing countries or undocumented workers, but it is perhaps best defined as any productive economic activity that is not taxed or registered by the government. Paulina Restrepo-Echavarria of the St. Louis Fed highlights some of the newer surveys that attempt to deepen our understanding of the fringes of the US labor market. Doing so will help the government better measure employment and labor market slack, and could also improve policies intended to incentivize informal workers to enter the traditional labor market. (St. Louis Federal Reserve)

Fed Beige Book finds that workers are becoming hard to find  

In the Federal Reserve’s most recent round up of regional economic conditions (commonly referred to as the Beige Book), the Fed highlights anecdotal evidence that the labor market has tightened enough to put upward pressure on wages. Across the country, employers are reporting labor shortages in many industries, including manufacturing, transportation and construction. In some less encouraging news, businesses in multiple regions reported concerns over proposed immigration law changes, ranging from difficulty in finding immigrant labor to falling demand in the hospitality industry. (Wall Street Journal)