A volatile labor market, with employers frequently revising their labor requirements and workers always on the look out for new jobs, provides much work for "labor market intermediaries"-- organizations which act as job brokerages, matching job seekers and potential employers. Traditional intermediaries such as temporary help agencies, professional associations, and union hiring halls, have been joined recently by non-profit community development corporations and numerous ventures occasioned by efforts to move former welfare recipients into jobs.
Despite the growing variety of labor market intermediaries, existing research is mostly limited to case studies of a single type of agency. Professors Manuel Pastor, Jr. of the University of California, Santa Cruz, Laura Leete, of Working Partnerships USA and Case Western Reserve University, and Laura Dresser of the University of Wisconsin head a team which will undertake a far more comprehensive, comparative study. Through site visits and interviews of staff and clients, the researchers will build up a profile of the labor market intermediaries operating in two regional labor markets: Silicon Valley, the birthplace of the new economy, and Milwaukee, a Midwestern region bouncing back from industrial decline. A large-scale telephone survey, backed up with data from regional unemployment insurance records, will then be used to track the progress of workers using the labor market intermediaries and to identify the types of intermediary that best serve the interests of disadvantaged workers.