America's Human Capital Paradoxes

Publication Date


Grant Type

Policy research grant


It is widely recognized that human capital is essential to sustaining a competitive economy at high and rising living standards. Yet acceptance of persistent high unemployment, stagnant wages, and other indicators of declining job quality suggests that policymakers and employers undervalue human capital. This paper traces the root cause of this apparent paradox to the primacy afforded shareholder value over human resource considerations in American firms and the longstanding gridlock over employment policy. I suggest that a new jobs compact will be needed to close the deficit in jobs lost in the recent recession and to achieve sustained real wage growth.

Grant Product

America's Human Capital Paradox
Upjohn Institute Working Paper No. 12-180, 2012

Resolving America's Human Capital Paradox: A Jobs Compact for the Future
Upjohn Institute Policy Paper No. 2012-011

Kochan, Thomas A. 2013. "The American Jobs Crisis and its Implication for the Future of Employment Policy: A Call for a New Jobs Compact." Industrial & Labor Relations Review 66(2): 291-314.