After Plant Closings in California: A Labor Day Story

(A modified version of an essay that appeared earlier this week in Forbes) Today’s “future of work” discussions often are ahistorical—not recognizing America’s previous experiences with technological and industrial change. So as we approach Labor Day 2018, we can gain perspective on our present situation by briefly looking at an earlier period, the widespread plant […]

The Meanings of the Latest California Job Numbers

Last Wednesday brought the latest jobs numbers for California, through January of this year. We are now in the 94th month of employment expansion. This is the second longest employment expansion in California since World War II, behind only the 113 month expansion of the later 1960s. What do the latest numbers mean? Is the […]

Coursera’s Bet on the Upskilling of California Workers

The ominous “future of work” continues to dominate headlines this year. We are told to prepare for the technological change that is rendering many current skills and job duties obsolete. To help us prepare, an industry of workforce degrees, certifications, badges and other training is rapidly expanding. How to sort through this training? Individually what […]

Jerry Brown’s Big Idea for Upskilling Workers

What to make of an online community college enabling working adults to upskill and keep up with technology, as well as to enable low wage workers to advance in career ladders? This past week, California newspapers trumpeted Governor Jerry Brown’s announcement of a large-scale online community college initiative aimed at achieving these goals. Open to all, the […]

How Hollywood’s Autism Fantasies Undermine Autism Employment

In a recent Curb Your Enthusiasm episode (Season 9, “Namaste”) Larry David pretends to be on the autism spectrum to win sympathy from an African-American mechanic he has insulted. Of course, as widely noted in the autism blogosphere, this is insensitive and inappropriate. But there is more honesty (and humor) in this one scene than […]

Beyond the Fires, What the Napa Valley Wine Economy Can Teach Us

In the past few weeks, much has been written about the devastation wrought by the Napa Valley fires, as well as the area’s determination to rebuild quickly. These are important stories, worth continuing to track. But there is another story of the Napa economy that has not received sufficient attention in the fire coverage. It […]

Why California’s jobs engine has remained resilient for 50 years

Labor Day 2017 finds California in the midst of an employment boom that has lasted more than seven years. Since February 2010, the state has gained nearly 2.6 million jobs. How long will this boom last? As we look over the ups and downs of employment in our state since World War II, we find […]

For Labor Day, Come Meet the Neurodiversity Workforce Brigade

As we approach this Labor Day 2017, I’d like Californians to meet the Neurodiversity Workforce Brigade. The Brigade employs tens of thousands of adults with neurological conditions that often are impediments to mainstream employment, primarily autism, severe ADHD, and other serious learning and mental health conditions. All of its members previously were unemployed Most were […]

Why California’s Greatest Historian Couldn’t Get Elected in San Francisco

(This essay appeared earlier this week in Zocalo Public Square, and has been slightly edited). Kevin Starr is widely regarded as California’s pre-eminent historian—a prolific author and public intellectual for nearly 50 years—and his death earlier this year generated much writing about his life and scholarship. But one episode in his life was not widely […]

The Race for the Best Job Placement Technology

Hundreds of internet firms are now competing to develop the best internet job placement system for job seekers. They are offering technologies that can tailor job leads for the individual job seeker and customize resume writing and interview prep, technologies that can rank and sort workers, technologies that can push out job leads on a […]