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:
Retail Jobs are Contracting in Areas Already Hit by Industrial Decline
As Americans do more of their shopping online, e-commerce companies like Amazon are thriving while traditional retailers are suffering. In areas that have already seen manufacturing jobs flee in recent decades, this tectonic shift is like a one-two punch. Johnstown, Pennsylvania is one such place. Jobs created by the growth of e-commerce—in shipping, logistics and warehousing—are often located near urban areas. So when storefront retailers close in rural towns like Johnstown, there are few new jobs to replace them. [New York Times]
Is Seattle’s Minimum Wage a Plus or Minus for Low-Wage Workers?
In 2014, Seattle passed a law raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour in phases over several years. Two new studies reach different conclusions. One paper examining the impact of the most recent increase—up to $13 an hour as of last year—found that it may have hurt those it intended to help. The study calculated that low-wage workers earned $125 per month less once the minimum wage was raised to $13 an hour. But, as is often the case in the minimum wage debate, another group of economists using similar methods found the opposite effect: higher earnings without loss of jobs. [FiveThirtyEight]
College-Bound Kids are Leaving Small Town America and Not Coming Back
Small town kids bound for college aren’t returning home, leaving employers in a bind. In states like Iowa, Pennsylvania and Georgia, rural areas are seeing a rising outflow of young adults, with college towns and big cities the main draws. This is a big change. As recently as 2000, rural areas expected a roughly equal number of college graduates to come back home for work as to stay away. The result of this trend is that businesses in small-town America face an acute worker shortage and the gap between rural and urban areas in educational attainment continues to widen. [Wall Street Journal]
In Britain, Gig Economy Growth is Slowing as Traditional Jobs Roar Back
Workers in the UK have faced a contradiction: Employment has soared since 2008, but the bulk of those jobs were through self-employment, temp agencies or gig economy positions with little security or benefits. But that may be changing. Since the second half of 2016, the number of employees with “zero hour” contracts, those with no minimum hours, has flatlined and the ranks of temp workers has fallen. Nearly all the UK’s employment growth this year has been in full-time jobs. While it took almost a decade, the record fall in UK unemployment has finally begun to push wages up, forcing more employers to offer old-fashioned full-time jobs with predictable hours and benefits. [Financial Times]
Could Skill-Based Jobs Provide a New Route to the Middle Class?
A new approach to hiring may provide Americans without a four-year college degree a way into the middle class, much in the way manufacturing jobs once did. This method, the skill-based approach to hiring, involves employers partnering with community colleges, state governments and nonprofits to teach potential employees skills for jobs in high demand like cybersecurity and computer programming. This approach might make traditional requirements like college degrees and work experience unnecessary and help more people in struggling areas land good-paying jobs. [New York Times]