Jake Rosenfeld Headshot

Jake Rosenfeld

Professor of Sociology, Washington University in St Louis

About Jake

Rosenfeld's research focuses on economic inequality, political participation, and changes in the ways in which workers get paid. Projects include an analysis of the broad consequences of labor union decline for American workers, a federally-funded project on pay transparency in U.S. firms, and a recent book exploring the determinants of pay in the contemporary U.S.


How the Decline of Unions Has Increased Racial Inequality

  • Meredith Kleykamp

Union Decline and Rising U.S. Wage Inequality

    Jake Rosenfeld ,

No Jargon Podcast

In the News

Jake Rosenfeld quoted on labor conflicts about worker classification by Rachel Cohen, "Ending GM's Two-Tiered Labor System Is UAW Members' Top Demand - and Part of a Bigger Fight Against Worker Misclassification" The Intercept, September 26, 2019.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted on increase in support of unions by Dylan Scott, "The Catch-22 for Labor Unions Enjoying Newfound Public Support" Vox, August 28, 2019.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted on benefits of unionized workplaces by German Lopez, "I was Skeptical of Unions. Then I Joined One." Vox, August 19, 2019.
Jake Rosenfeld's research on trends in union strikes discussed by Steven Greenhouse, "The Return of the Strike," American Prospect, January 3, 2019.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted by Noam Scheiber, "Missouri Voters Reject Anti-Union Law in a Victory for Labor" The New York Times, August 7, 2018.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted by Liz Alderman, "Britain Aims to Close Gender Pay Gap with Transparency and Shame" The New York Times, April 4, 2018.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted by Simon Montlake and Story Hinckley, "Surge in Teacher Activism Challenges GOP Austerity Mindset" The Christian Science Monitor, April 3, 2018.
Jake Rosenfeld's research on the impact the decline of unions has had on the earnings of workers who don’t belong to unions discussed by Alana Semuels, "Fewer Unions, Lower Pay for Everybody," The Atlantic, August 30, 2016.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted on the effects of union membership on voter turnout by Neil Gross, "The Decline of Unions and the Rise of Trump" New York Times, August 12, 2016.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted on salary transparency by Claire Cain Miller, "How to Bridge That Stubborn Pay Gap" New York Times, January 15, 2016.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted on the decline of unionization by Adia Harvey Wingfield, "What Would It Take to Have an Economy Full of Good Jobs Again?" The Atlantic, October 30, 2015.
Guest to discuss equal pay on KCRW's To the Point, Jake Rosenfeld, October 9, 2015.
"The Rise and Fall of U.S. Labor Unions, and Why They Still Matter," Jake Rosenfeld, The Conversation, March 27, 2015.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted on right-to-work laws by Brian Mahoney, "Scott Walker Takes On Unions Again" Politico, March 6, 2015.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted on the negative impact of the devastation in the labor movement by Nicholas Kristoff, "The High Price of Labour Union Decline" Straights Times, February 23, 2015.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted on understanding the devastation in the labor movement to understand rising inequality by Nicholas Kristoff, "The Cost of a Decline in Unions" New York Times, February 19, 2015.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted on long-term trends in unionization by Matt Phillips, "American Labor-Union Strikes are Almost Completely Extinct" Quartz, February 11, 2015.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted on New Orleans' income inequality by Robert McClendon, "New Orleans' Tourism Industry Booms but Income Inequality Remains Entrenched" , October 28, 2014.
"The Supreme Court Did Not Just Kill Public Sector Unions," Jake Rosenfeld, Politico, June 30, 2014.
"Politics in Our Non-Union Age," Jake Rosenfeld, Talking Points Memo, March 20, 2014.
"Government is Not the Answer: Why Public Sector Unions Won't Rescue Labor," Jake Rosenfeld, Talking Points Memo, March 17, 2014.
Guest to discuss declining union membership on MSNBC, Jake Rosenfeld, January 30, 2014.
"Vote on New Boeing Contract Highlights a Rift in the Machinists' Union," Jake Rosenfeld, Interview with Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, January 2, 2014.
"Rejection Puts Future Home of Boeing Jet in Doubt," Jake Rosenfeld, Interview with Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, November 15, 2013.
"BART Workers, Striking an Unfamiliar Note," Jake Rosenfeld, Harvard Business Review Online, October 22, 2013.
"Lost Unions and Lost Ground," Jake Rosenfeld (with Meredith Kleykamp), Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2013.
Jake Rosenfeld's research on how the decline of unions relates to a decline in upward mobility (with Bruce Western) discussed by Aaron Corvin, "Strictly Business: Decline of Unions Has Steep Price," The Columbian, September 8, 2013.
Jake Rosenfeld's research on the current state of the U.S. labor movement discussed by Steven Greenhouse, "In New Wave of Walkouts, Fast-Food Strikers Gain Momentum," New York Times, August 29, 2013.
Jake Rosenfeld's research on the effects of union decline on income inequality (with Bruce Western) discussed by Emma Green, "Are Shrinking Unions Making Workers Poorer?," The Atlantic, July 24, 2013.
Jake Rosenfeld's research on the possibility of a strike at Boeing discussed by Ashley Gross, "Do Boeing Engineers Have Enough Leverage to Strike?," NPR, February 8, 2013.
Jake Rosenfeld's research on labor unions discussed by "Unions and the Election: With Friends Like These...," The Economist, September 22, 2012.
Jake Rosenfeld quoted on labor unions, "State of the Unions: What It Means for Workers - And Everyone Else" [email protected], May 9, 2012.
"Workers of the World Divide," Jake Rosenfeld (with Bruce Western), Huffington Post, April 18, 2012.


"The Power of Transparency: Evidence from a British Workplace Survey" (with Patrick Denice). American Sociological Review 80, no. 5 (2015): 1045-1068.

Examines whether the dissemination of organizational financial information shifts power dynamics within workplaces, finding that employees whose managers share financial information earn about 8 to 12 percent more than employees whose managers keep such information secret.

"The Power of Transparency: Evidence from a British Workplace Survey" (with Patrick Denice). American Sociological Review 80, no. 5 (2015): 1045-1068.

Utilizes the 2004 and 2011 series of the British Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS) to test whether employees who report that their managers disclose workplace financial data earn more than otherwise similar workers not privy to such information. Suggests that disclosure results in higher wages for workers after adjusting for profit and productivity levels and a range of other workplace and worker characteristics.  Argues that disclosure is a key resource that reduces information asymmetries, thereby providing legitimacy to workers’ claims in wage bargaining.

What Unions No Longer Do (Harvard University Press, 2014).
Lays bare the broad repercussions of labor's collapse for the American economy and polity.
"Organized Labor and Racial Wage Inequality in the United States" (with Meredith Kleykamp). American Journal of Sociology 117, no. 5 (2012): 1460-1502.
Examines the effect of labor union decline on economic inequality between African-Americans and whites. Finds that organized labor was vital in supporting African-American wages, and in reducing black-white wage gaps – especially among female workers.
"Workers of the World Divide: The Decline of Labor and the Future of the Middle Class" (with Bruce Western). Foreign Affairs 91, no. 3 (2012): 88-99.
Describes the causes of organized labor's collapse in the U.S., and analyzes some of the major consequences of labor's decline for middle class Americans. Offers some plausible pathways for unions to respond to the challenges of the 21st Century.
"Unions, Norms, and the Rise in American Earnings Inequality" (with Bruce Western). American Sociological Review 76, no. 4 (2011): 513-37.
Provides a comprehensive investigation into union decline’s impact on wage inequality in the U.S. Finds that declining union membership explains a third of the recent rise in men’s wage inequality in the private sector – roughly equal to the impact of the growing wage gap between college and high school-educated workers.
"Economic Determinants of Voting in an Era of Union Decline" Social Science Quarterly 91, no. 2 (2010): 379-98.
Investigates how the changing composition of the labor movement affects who turns out to vote on election day. Finds that the effect of belonging to a union on voting is strongest for low-educated private sector workers – precisely the type of person fast disappearing from unions.
"Hispanics and Organized Labor in the United States, 1973-2007" (with Meredith Kleykamp). American Sociological Review 74, no. 6 (2009): 916-37.

Questions whether the recent, well-publicized unionization campaigns of Hispanics and Hispanic immigrants have helped revitalize the labor movement. We find that certain Hispanic subpopulations are more likely to belong to unions than non-immigrant whites. However, all populations’ unionization propensities have dropped precipitously in recent decades.