Is Britain working?

The labour market context to the general election

UpcomingTuesday 25 June 2024

Register to attend in person or to receive an access link for online viewers. Since 2010, Britain’s labour market has gone through a period of boom and bust – with record jobs growth in the last decade followed by a struggle to return to pre-pandemic employment rates in the 2020s. And while the country has … Continued

Precarious profits?

Why firms use insecure contracts, and what would change their minds

Thursday 25 April 2024

Over one-in-ten workers across Britain is employed on some form of precarious contract. The problems with such working arrangements for some workers are well known: they have limited control over their working patterns and insecure incomes too. But why firms use, or even come to rely on them, is rarely discussed and poorly understand. We … Continued

Setting a high bar

Celebrating 25 years of the minimum wage, and plotting its next path

Wednesday 27 March 2024

The introduction of the minimum wage back in April 1999 was a controversial policy choice, with businesses warning that it would lead to widespread job losses. But 25 years on, it has proved to be a great policy success that has been built on by several governments. Raising the legal wage floor has significantly reduced … Continued

Healthy starts

How mental ill-health shapes the education and economic prospects of young people

Monday 26 February 2024

The rising prevalence of mental health problems among young people over recent decades is becoming increasingly concerning. While evidently distressing for the young people and their families, periods of poor mental health can also have significant detrimental impacts on their education and job prospects. Increasing support provided in schools and universities has gone some way … Continued

Labour market

WorkerTech Conference

Exploring the role of technology in creating good work in the UK

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Technology is changing the world of work — from AI to app-based firms and the pandemic-induced surge in remote working. The benefits of these new technologies can often pass low-earners by, or ratchet up insecurity in their working lives. But new technologies also have the potential to improve workers’ pay, skills and career paths — … Continued

Creating a Good Jobs economy

Lecture by Professor Dani Rodrik

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Advanced economies across the world have been buffeted by acute shocks crises like the Covid-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine, at the same time as they are grappling with longer-term challenges like deindustrialisation, the rise of AI and globalisation. Labour markets across a range of countries have experienced persistent wage stagnation, the rise of insecure … Continued

Risk reduction

Can earnings insurance underpin a more dynamic jobs market and a more productive economy?

Thursday 21 September 2023

Losing your job in Britain can be a very expensive business. Low and flat rate benefits leave many workers facing huge income falls if they face a period out of work. This gives them a strong incentive to take a new job quickly – but not necessarily the best fit for their talents. And it … Continued

Making Greater Manchester great again

What is GM’s plausible path to greater prosperity?

Tuesday 19 September 2023

This event was held in Manchester. Greater Manchester has long been centre-stage in visions of a more geographically equal country – from the Northern Powerhouse to levelling up. But the rhetoric has outpaced the reality: productivity and wages across the city region remain 10 and 4 per cent below the national average. What it would … Continued

Building momentum in Birmingham and beyond

What is Birmingham urban area’s plausible path to greater prosperity?

Thursday 14 September 2023

This event was in Birmingham. The West Midlands has played a pivotal role in British history as a manufacturing hub, driving innovation and economic growth which led to dramatic improvements in people’s living standards. But its city region has struggled to maintain this role over recent decades, and productivity is now 11 per cent below … Continued

Shared prosperity

What would it take to see a return to rising living standards for all?

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Britain is stagnating. Productivity growth is flatlining, workers today are earning the same wages as their predecessors in 2007, and living standards growth had slowed to a crawl even before today’s cost of living crisis. So we need a clear strategy for returning to rising, and widely shared, prosperity. Against that backdrop, it is important … Continued

Playing by the rules

A new approach to enforcing workers’ rights

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Debates about raising, or indeed cutting, legal protections for workers are a staple of British politics – with welcome progress including a rising minimum wage driving down low pay. But too often the reality that these rights, rates and rules mean little if they aren’t enforced is forgotten. The systems used to enforce workers’ rights … Continued

Good work

How to renew the UK’s economic strategy and put better jobs at its heart

Wednesday 19 April 2023

The minimum wage has more than halved the share of low paid workers across Britain over the past two decades. This is a huge success – but it is far from job done. While low-paid workers today earn more, they are too often trapped on short-hours, facing poor working conditions or lacking the advantages higher … Continued

Getting Britain working

How to boost workforce participation in the 2020s

Tuesday 21 February 2023

Fast rising participation in the workforce was an important driver of growth in the 2010s, helping to offset the impacts of a productivity and wage stagnation. But that progress has gone into reverse in the wake of the pandemic, with older workers in particular exiting the workforce, prompting the government to launch a major review. … Continued

Do we care about carers?

The experiences of social care workers

Thursday 26 January 2023

Social care is a large and important part of the UK economy, and will be a growing one with an ageing population and rising ill-health. But it is often also a lower paid one, with funding challenges, staff shortages and a history of risks around minimum wage underpayment. Workers wrestle with these challenges, alongside the … Continued

Clocking in and out

Is choice or circumstance driving part-time work among low earners?

Wednesday 30 November 2022

Working hours, not just hourly pay rates, are a key determinant of living standards. Historically, men have tended to work more paid hours than women, with working hours for both sexes increasing substantially between the ages of 18 and 25. But over recent decades these trends appear to be weakening, with increasing numbers of young … Continued

Mortgaged millennials to bitterly cold boomers

Assessing the cost of living crisis across generations

Monday 14 November 2022

Rising energy bills are with us and rising mortgage bills are on the way. While wages are falling far behind inflation, debates rage about whether benefits or the state pension should do the same. Older workers have not returned to the labour market post-Covid, while younger workers may suffer most from the unemployment rise the … Continued

Unfair treatment

Assessing the scale of workplace discrimination, and efforts to stamp it out

Tuesday 8 November 2022

Anti-discrimination laws have been with us since the 1960s, but despite this discrimination against workers based on protected characteristics such as race, gender and disability remains prevalent in many workplaces today. This can affect who gets which job, and means the world of work feels very different for different people.  And while there are routes … Continued

Power, pay and profits

What do shifts in firm and worker power mean for wages?

Thursday 7 July 2022

Firms create value – at least the successful ones do. But who benefits, the firm’s owners or workers, and by how much, is often up for grabs. That’s why power in our labour market matters. It doesn’t just affect the level of wages, but the inequality of those wages too. The power of workers – … Continued

Labour market

The new NEETs?

Understanding the changing nature of youth worklessness

Monday 13 June 2022

High levels of young people not in employment, education or training was a major social and economic concern in the 1990s. Decades of concerted policy action to reduce numbers across Britain has seen the scale of the problem shrink, but it has not gone away. Under the positive headlines, some forms of worklessness are on … Continued

Raising the bar

What are the new frontiers for tackling low pay?

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Over the past two decades, Britain’s low pay landscape has been transformed by the introduction and ramping up of the national minimum wage. This has been an unqualified policy success, so much so that the government is on course to eliminate hourly low pay this decade. With that landmark moment in sight, policy makers will … Continued

Labour market

From platforms to promotions

How technology can boost young people’s career prospects

Wednesday 18 May 2022

The way young people enter the job market from education can have a marked effect on their future prospects. Economic crises are a particularly tough time to start a career, and while the Job Retention Scheme prevented mass unemployment during the pandemic, young people still face huge challenges in terms of rising insecurity and finding … Continued

Catch 2022

What does the end of a global pandemic and the start of a European conflict mean for Britain’s economic outlook?

Monday 14 March 2022

The end of the Covid economic crisis is finally in sight. But it has swiftly been replaced by a terrifying conflict in Europe that threatens lives in Ukraine and livelihoods far beyond its borders. The UK’s immediate post-Covid economy thankfully doesn’t include the lengthy dole queues that normally follow a recession. But it instead faces … Continued

Changing jobs?

How economic change affects the world of work

Thursday 6 January 2022

The labour market has changed substantially over the past 60 years – from fewer factories and more health services, to working with new machines or being replaced by them. In the decade ahead it will change again thanks to Brexit, Covid-19 and the net zero transition. But the relationship between how the labour market as … Continued

Back to the future

What comes next for the UK’s post-pandemic labour market?

Tuesday 23 November 2021

At the onset of the pandemic, there were widespread concerns about catastrophic levels of unemployment in the face of lockdowns. But extending the furlough scheme has kept a lid on unemployment, while the reopening of the economy this summer has sparked a ‘jobs-rush’. As the UK labour market enters a new phase, it is important … Continued

No shame, no gain?

Do firms’ reputational concerns affect their compliance with labour market laws?

Tuesday 9 November 2021

In-person event and live interactive webinar. Register to receive access link. Businesses are responsible for ensuring they treat their workers fairly – from providing safe workplaces to paying staff the wages they’ve earned. But not all firms meet these standards at all times and, in the age of social media, public outcry at poor behaviour … Continued

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