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The economic shutdown caused by the COVID-19 public health crisis has led over 40 million individuals to file for unemployment and disrupted every system in the US. Over the past few months, Alicia Sasser Modestino has been evaluating the impacts of the pandemic on the economy and has used her expertise in economics and public policy to offer insights about the future of the US’ job market. She has most recently been awarded a grant to conduct research to preserve summer employment opportunities for inner-city youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Modestino is an Associate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Economics as well as the Associate Director of Northeastern’s Dukakis Center. Dr. Modestino’s current research focuses on labor and health economics including changing skill requirements, youth development, healthcare, housing, and migration. Read her featured interviews below to gain a better understanding of the unprecedented economic challenges facing society today and how you can prepare for the ‘new normal’.

  • William T. Grant and Spencer Foundations Award Rapid Response Research Grants to Combat Youth Inequality Exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic“With resource shortfalls and shifting priorities expected to compound existing inequalities in a range of policy areas, the Foundations have committed up to $900,000 in grants to leverage research for smart public policy that can positively impact the lives of young people. The first of the two grants awarded today will support the Boston Mayor’s office to work with Professor Alicia Modestino of Northeastern University to use evidence to design their summer youth employment programs.”
  • You can’t turn the economy back on like a light switch“There’s a lot of friction that happens in the labor market that slows things down, Sasser Modestino explained. Not all the jobs destroyed because of coronavirus are going to come back. Some companies are going to put in place more automation and technology, or they’re just not going to hire as many people back.”
  • Innovation Will Help Us Rebuild”What follows are suggestions for the way forward in four sectors — the labor market; primary and secondary education; housing; and mental health and social services — based on a conversation that opened the Boston Area Research Initiative’s ongoing conference on The Smart, Equitable Commonwealth. Recovery will require collaboration between researchers, policymakers, practitioners, community leaders, and corporations, and data will play a critical role. This moment can be transformational, but only if we are rigorous and creative.”
  • Bills, Taxes, Donations: How People Are Spending Their Coronavirus Relief Money – “Northeastern University professor and economist Alicia Sasser Modestino says charity is a good thing for the economy as long as the money gets to people who will spend it. Modestino says right now the economy is basically in a coma. People spending money will help keep things afloat while we fight off this virus before business can safely reopen.”
  • Beware Degree Inflation In The Coming Recession – “Historically, this mismatch in labor supply and demand has resulted in employers ratcheting up education requirements for posted jobs. At the height of the Great Recession, there were more than six jobseekers for every job opening (see chart). A studyby Alicia Sasser Modestino, Daniel Shoag, and Joshua Ballance found that over the same period, the share of job postings requiring at least a college degree rose by more than 10 percentage points.”
  • COVID-19: No work, essential work, and what they have in common“In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, is it better to work or collect unemployment benefits? With many jobs paying little for dangerous work and the unemployment system getting clogged with applicants, the answer isn’t so simple. In this episode, we talk to Alicia Sasser-Modestino.”