/ #resilience #Labour Markets 

Creating resilient urban labor economies

Like ecosystems, societies with adaptable economies are best prepared for the future. We started a research program to understand and detect economic resilience encoded in the dependency networks of agents, businesses, cities, or jobs. In particular, how much of the adaptability of our economies depends on the fragility of those economic networks? Can we identify weaknesses and design policies to strengthen those interdependent units?

Using highly detailed information about jobs, skills, and cities, our foundational study extended traditional economic models to show that the network structure of interactions and flows between jobs determines the resilience of labor markets. We found that cities with more excellent job connectivity experienced lower unemployment during the Great Recession and might suf- fer less from technological disruptions (automation). Building on these initial ideas and novel data, we have studied individual workers’ careers to understand the skill, occupational, educational, and systemic facilitators of job transitions in labor markets.

Through partnerships with resume companies like Burning Glass Technologies or FutureFit Ai and tools borrowed from ecological networks, we investigate how workers navigate the job network through their careers, developing new skills, getting new jobs, or even relocating to different cities. Understanding those processes will better predict how labor markets will respond to exogenous (pandemic, climate change) and endogenous (technological disruptions) shocks.

At a different level, local businesses or industries co-depend on other venues or business. For example, some restaurants depend on offices and schools and suffered more during the last pandemic. Using high-resolution mobility data and input-output matrices between different sectors, we quantify those networked dependencies to study how sudden changes in human behavior due to urban shocks could trigger economic cascades that could amplify their effects. We work with cities, companies, industries and workers’ associations so they can use our work to know the specific skills/jobs or businesses they will need to acquire, develop or invest in to build more resilient and equitable labor markets and business sectors in the future.

Recent papers:

  • Network constraints on worker mobility
    Morgan R Frank, Esteban Moro, Tobin South, Alex Rutherford, Alex Pentland, Bledi Taska, Iyad Rahwan
    Nature Cities 1 94–104 (2024)
    PDF Journal
  • Universal resilience patterns in labor markets
    Esteban Moro, Morgan R. Frank, Alex Pentland, Alex Rutherford, Manuel Cebrian, Iyad Rahwan
    Nature Communications 12 1972 (2021)
    PDF Journal
  • Toward understanding the impact of artificial intelligence on labor
    Morgan R Frank, David Autor, James E Bessen, Erik Brynjolfsson, Manuel Cebrian, David J Deming, Maryann Feldman, Matthew Groh, Jose Lobo, Esteban Moro, Dashun Wang, Hyejin Youn, Iyad Rahwan
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116 201900949 (2019)
    PDF Journal

Esteban Moro

Professor at Northeastern University. Working on Complex Systems, Social Networks and Urban Science.