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My Research

Research Interests

My current research incorporates elements of labor, regional, and demographic analysis. To date, I have projects that include elements of standard microeconomic and macroeconomic analysis, so neither title is completely appropriate. My research interests include: worker compensation rates, productivity and pay comparisons, differential effects of regional policies, impact studies, and the impact of shifting demographics on economic outcomes in the United States. A more in-depth discussion of my research is included in my Research Statement below.

Regional Policies' Effect on on the Relationship Between Compensation and Productivity

This paper builds on a technique developed to analyze the relationship between average compensation and productivity across sectors in the United States. Previous work indicates significant regional heterogeneity in this relationship that price differentials cannot entirely explain (Blake, 2019). Through the lens of a labor supply and demand framework, I predict the effects policy is likely to have on this relationship. Using a panel dataset for the six largest U.S. sectors by employment, I estimate the effect of various state policies on the difference between average compensation and productivity rates during the years 2008-2017. There are two primary conclusions from this work. First, policies impact average compensation and productivity rates differently, thus highlighting the tradeoffs that state policymakers should consider before implementing a policy change. Secondly, marginal tax rate changes have a varied effect on industrial compensation relative to productivity while benefit changes tend to more uniformly affect this relationship. Understanding these nuances contributes meaningfully to the information required for policymakers to affect change in labor market outcomes as desired.

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Are We Underpaid? Estimating Average Compensation Relative to Productivity in the United States

An increasingly common sentiment in popular discourse is that United States workers are underpaid, which suggests a growing need for a measure that can better assess the relationship between compensation and productivity rates. In this paper I develop a straightforward, unique measure of worker real compensation relative to productivity that can be flexibly applied to different regional units of analysis and sectors in the U.S. This ``Compensation-Productivity Difference" measure is then estimated for each state over the years 2008-2017 for the six largest U.S. sectors. The calculations show that, even accounting for price differentials, workers tend to be more underpaid in coastal states with high populations, while workers in Midwestern and Southern states with lower populations tend to be overpaid. Robustness checks indicate the measure is correlated with economic confidence measures, entrepreneurship rates, and net migration rates, though these results are mixed. As a result, I assert that this new measure can add a more nuanced understanding of labor market outcomes for workers across the United States and the relationship between compensation and productivity rates, while also showing that there is more work to be done for a complete view of labor market outcomes in the United States.

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Heritage Language Labor Market Returns: The Importance of Speaker Density at the State Level

Vocal public opinion and mainstream media encourages immigrants to adopt English as their new standard of communication in the United States (Volkova, Ranshous and Phillips, 2018), which generates assimilation tension within these communities (Seals, 2018; Liang, 2018). In the context of English-First (EF) movements and resulting difficulties that immigrants face, we investigate the extent to which continuing the use of a heritage language in a predominantly monolingual economy is monetarily beneficial. Using the Public Use Microdata Sets, we find evidence of a concave relationship between the proportion of a state's population that speaks a non-majority language in the home and economic outcomes such as income and employment. The results quantify the benefits of speaking a heritage language for an individual, imply that EF movements do not benefit immigrant populations overall, and suggest a non-zero population proportion in which benefits to speaking a heritage language are maximized.

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Research Statement

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