Alan Krueger has been named to the top job of Chairing the Council of Economic Advisers. Compared to his predecessors Krueger is a far more influential academic. Influence being measured by the number of times Alan Krueger's work is cited in the academic world. To have an entire first page of Google Scholar in excess of one thousand citations each is a remarkable feat in any discipline. What this means is that Alan Kruegers' ideas resonate with a variety of academics who might agree or disagree with him – but do consider him impactful. Here are some of the key highly cited paper ideas that might help with the immediate employment problem in the US:
- Computing inequality: Have Computers changed the Labor Market? Doesn't sound like a huge revelation except when you notice that the paper was published in 1998 and must have been in the works for several years prior. And that was in the early days of the Internet. That college graduates got jobs and better pay is one thought but that skills and knowledge upgrades have been higher in industries that adopted computers is a nice foresight from the 1990's.
- Would you be happier if you were richer? Psychologists got into the science of happiness in 2005 and Krueger has the economists viewpoint in this co-authored article from Science in 2006. No surprises- more money does not make you happier.
- But you do need a job and minimum income if you don't have one. And there is a lot of work on minimum wage that that Alan Krueger has done.
And therein is the challenge for Alan Krueger. How do you get employers to hire folks who may not have the skills that companies need? In some cases skills might take years to acquire but are there mechanisms (like training tax breaks for companies) to motivate companies to hire and train their people on the job? How do you get the unemployed a job so that there is that thresh-hold happiness.
More importantly, how do you get everyone on the same page like the planning for Hurricane Irene? For dealing with the unemployment problem is not less urgent than trying to restore electricity in millions of homes without power post hurricane Irene.
Best of luck to Alan Krueger on this huge challenge.