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Inter-Firm Contracting and Wages: Concepts, Trends, and New Directions for Research

April 9, 201912:00 pm1:30 pm


An important next step in understanding how firm strategies affect the quality of jobs and inequality in the US overall is to more systematically examine the reallocation of labor across organizations, as a result of firms’ or governments’ decisions to purchase goods and services from other firms. I refer to this process as domestic inter-firm contracting (IFC). My analysis shows that the definition of domestic IFC matters. Measuring domestic IFC by sector and by industry reveals important distinctions in trends and wage relationships, and raises questions and hypotheses for further research.


About the Speaker:

Jessie Halpern-Finnerty is a research and policy associate in the low-wage work program at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. She works on projects relating to domestic outsourcing and technological change. Jessie is currently pursuing a PhD. in geography at UC Davis; her dissertation examines production networks and inequality in regional labor markets, with a focus on the food services industry. In previous years, Jessie worked with the green jobs team at CLRE, conducting research and policy analysis on job quality, job access, and training in California’s clean energy economy. She has also contributed to the work of the Food Labor Research Center. Prior to joining CLRE, Jessie worked at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy in Madison, WI. She completed a master’s degree in international public affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.



Karen Chapple, Ph.D., is a Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. Chapple, who holds the Carmel P. Friesen Chair in Urban Studies, studies inequalities in the governance, planning, and development of regions in the U.S. and Latin America. Her recent books include Planning Sustainable Cities and Regions: Towards More Equitable Development (Routledge, 2015), which won the John Friedmann Book Award from the American Collegiate Schools of Planning; Transit-Oriented Displacement or Community Dividends? Understanding the Effects of Smarter Growth on Communities (with Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, MIT Press, 2019); and Fragile Governance and Local Economic Development: Theory and Evidence from Peripheral Regions in Latin America (with Sergio Montero, Routledge, 2018).