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Caroline Hanley

Research Findings

How the idea of the local “business climate” was created in the 1950s to give companies leverage at the height of unions’ power

April 7, 2022

Employment insecurity has emerged as a defining trait of the contemporary American economy, and it’s not just workers who fear job loss. Employment insecurity manifests at the community level as well. Shared concerns over an area’s ‘business climate’ and its relationship to employment growth inform virtually every area of local politics in the United States, often through the work of public economic development agencies operating in partnership with the private sector. Maintaining a favorable business climate to encourage job growth means limiting regulation, offering enticing tax breaks or publicly funded business infrastructure to potential employers, and promising a skilled and eager workforce (preferably one that is not unionized).

Large companies with the ability to relocate or grow their operations elsewhere exercise a great deal of power over their workers and the communities in which they do business.

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