The Organizational Context of Employment Scarring
David Pedulla, The University of Texas at Austin
Recent research has demonstrated that histories of long-term unemployment and non-standard employment – part-time work, temporary agency employment, and skills underemployment – can have a direct negative effect on workers’ future labor market opportunities. Given the important role that employment can play in protecting individuals and their families from material hardship, these emerging findings are of particular concern to scholars and policymakers interested in reducing poverty. Yet, while spells of unemployment and non-standard work have been shown to limit a worker’s ability to obtain future employment, little is know about the organizational-level forces that shape these trajectories. What factors make some employers, but not others, willing to hire workers with histories of unemployment or non-standard employment? This project seeks to make inroads into this gap in the literature by merging company-level data with evidence from an original experimental audit study of job openings previously conducted by the author. Combining detailed information from the ReferenceUSA database about the companies in the audit study, analysis of the text of the job postings to which applications were submitted in the audit study, and “callback” (i.e., positive employer response) data from the audit study, I will examine whether organizational context – such as firm size, sector, financial standing, and organizational demography – matters in shaping the scarring effects of long-term unemployment and non-standard employment. Findings from this research will provide insights into potential interventions that can mitigate the employment challenges faced by job seekers with scarred employment histories, in turn reducing the likelihood that they will experience poverty.