Washington, D.C. — The debate around labor market monopsony has heated up considerably in recent years. While labor monopsony was previously considered a hypothetical thought experiment, recent statistical analysis has forced economists and policymakers to reexamine the assumption that labor markets are perfectly competitive. Today, the Center for American Progress released a new report on labor market monopsony that puts the issue in the broader conversation of corporate power and explains the implications of concentration in real terms.
“After decades of policy decisions that have eroded our antitrust laws, attacked workers, and hollowed out many rural economies, the time has come to take bold action to both tackle concentrated corporate power and build worker power,” said Zoe Willingham, research assistant for Economic Policy at CAP and co-author of the report.
“Many rural communities find themselves dependent on a single employer, leaving workers little choice but to accept substandard wages and poor working conditions,” said Olugbenga Ajilore, senior economist at CAP and co-author of the report.
Through case studies, including Canton, Mississippi, and Greeley, Colorado, CAP’s report illustrates the human implications of highly concentrated labor markets in company towns. By analyzing the origin of modern company towns and the ways in which corporations exercise their market power to suppress wages, the report illustrates the importance of robust labor protections in addition to antitrust law in pursuit of dispersed economic power.
In addition to robust antitrust enforcement based on strong structural presumptions against mergers and acquisitions, CAP’s report makes recommendations for boosting worker power and raising labor standards to combat the “company town” effect. CAP recommends increasing scrutiny for proposed mergers between companies with a documented history of labor law violations; building worker power through firm-level unions and sectoral bargaining; and establishing high-road labor standards across state and international borders.
Click here to read the report: “The Modern Company Town” by Zoe Willingham and Olugbenga Ajilore
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at gro.ssergorpnacirema@ssierpa or 202-578-6331.