Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Overview

This course combines an examination of how urban labor markets work, and how employment patterns are shifting in the United States, with a consideration of public policy. In the first part of the course we examine the distribution of labor market outcomes (wages and job security), shifts in the organization of work within firms (e.g. teams and contingent work), how jobs are found in urban labor markets and the role of networks, and the situation of specific groups such as women and immigrants. We then turn to public policy and consider a variety of issues regarding job training, the link between economic development and labor market policy, living wage campaigns, unions, and welfare reform. The course will be organized around readings and discussion with only occasional lectures. For this to work, all students will need to come to class having done the readings and prepared to discuss them.

Course Requirements

  1. Prior to each class each student should send me a one page e-mail indicating what, based on the readings, are the important questions we need to discuss that day.
  2. A substantial policy analysis project on a topic relevant to the course. This project could involve such things as critically examining an element of employment and training policy in Massachusetts, describing and making recommendations regarding the current Federal discussion on reorganizing the employment and training system, looking at the problems of a particular labor market group in depth, etc. Each student will prepare a substantial paper and will present it to the class towards the end of the course. If several students want to work on a project together that is acceptable on the assumption, of course, that the scope of the project will expand accordingly.


activities percentages
Class Participation 50%
Paper 50%

The Readings

During the course you will also be asked to read Securing Prosperity and Gathering Power. These books can be found with the following information:

Osterman, Paul. Securing Prosperity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000. ISBN: 0691086885.

———. Gathering Power. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2003. ISBN 0807043389.