Barry Bluestone

Barry Bluestone is the Stearns Trustee Professor of Political Economy and Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University.

Recent Articles

Job Unfair

The latest report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that unemployment shot up to 6.4 percent in June, the highest rate in nine years. But an even more chilling statistic is that for 24 months (and counting), employment is lower than it was one year before. The result has been the longest private-sector employment slump since the Great Depression. Beginning in February 2001, the month after George W. Bush took over the White House, the economy has shed 2.6 million jobs -- equivalent to 93,000 workers joining the unemployment rolls each month. What is especially surprising is that these job losses keeps occurring even as the economy is growing. We aren't experiencing a "jobless recovery" -- more accurately, this is a " jobloss recovery." From the end of the third quarter of 2001 through the end of the first quarter of this year, real gross domestic product has increased by a total of 4 percent, almost exactly the same amount as during the same interval following the last recession...

Rewarding Work: Feasible Antipoverty Policy

A higher minimum wage and the earned income tax credit fit like puzzle pieces, each compensating for the other's flaws. Together they are our best bet to fight poverty.

V irtually all economists who have studied the changing income distribution have confirmed what nearly everyone else knows. For most Americans, living standards are stagnating and becoming more unstable. For the bottom half, income is falling. And the prime culprit is not shifts in family values or the work ethic, or even changes in taxes and social benefits. Most of the problem is the erosion of wage and salary income. The causes are multiple [see Bluestone, " The Inequality Express ," TAP , Winter 1995], but there are proven methods for cushioning the impact by raising incomes at the bottom and providing "wage insurance" for those at risk. Chief among these are the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit (EITC). The two fit together like jigsaw puzzle pieces. Each has an inherent weakness—but the weakness in one is precisely the strength of the other. The problem is that the real value of the minimum wage is shrinking and the EITC is under attack. THE FATE OF AMERICAN INCOMES...

Overworked and Underemployed

Works Discussed in this Essay: Rebecca Blank, "Are Part-Time Jobs Lousy Jobs?" In Gary Burtless, ed., A Future of Lousy Jobs? The Changing Structure of U.S. Wages (Brookings Institution, 1990). John E. Bregger and Steven E. Haugen, "BLS Introduces New Range of Alternative Unemployment Measures," Monthly Labor Review , October, 1995. Polly Callaghan and Heidi Hartmann, Contingent Work: A Chartbook on Part-Time and Temporary Employment (Economic Policy Institute, 1991). Lawrence Mishel and Jared Bernstein, The State of Working America 1994-95 (M.E. Sharpe, 1994). John P. Robinson and Ann Bostrom, "The Overestimated Workweek? What Time Diary Measures Suggest," Monthly Labor Review , August, 1994. Stephen J. Rose, "Declining Job Security and the Professionalization of Opportunity," Research Report No. 95-04, National Commission for Employment Policy, 1995. Juliet Schor, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (Basic Books, 1991). A t least since the 1980s people have...

Controversy: Can't We Grow Faster?

Continuing the debate from "The Speed Limit," by Alan S. Blinder, and "Why We Can Grow Faster," by Barry Bluestone and Bennett Harrison (September-October 1997).

Continuing the debate from " The Speed Limit ," by Alan S. Blinder, and " Why We Can Grow Faster ," by Barry Bluestone and Bennett Harrison (September-October 1997). Dear Alan : In your recent article [" The Speed Limit : Fact and Fancy in the Growth Debate," TAP , September-October 1997], we very much appreciate your modest, wonderfully humorous, and clearly stated reasoning against betting too heavily on faster growth. We share with you the view that the more capital-friendly tax and regulatory policies advocated by the right (and, increasingly, by the center as well) will not cause the economy to grow faster, in either the short or long run, and would only serve to make the distribution of income between labor and capital even more unequal than it is already. As you will see in this letter, we also share other points of concurrence. But we apparently have an honest disagreement on the central point. We see many signs of a higher potential growth rate; you see growth continuing at...