Antitrust in Labor Markets: Insights from the FTC Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century

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Over the past few years, antitrust issues in labor markets have emerged as a focal point in regulatory enforcement, particularly regarding allegations of “no-poach” agreements among high-tech firms. This article highlights key points of the expert panel discussion examining antitrust issues in labor markets that the FTC organized as part of its hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century. The ten panelists addressed various topics related to economic evidence of labor-market monopsony and antitrust policy for labor markets. The article briefly discusses economic models of labor markets to provide a framework for understanding monopsony power, and then summarizes the panelists’ discussion of the current economic evidence on the connection between employer concentration and wage stagnation in the U.S. The article follows with a recap of the debate on the applicability of the consumer-welfare standard to antitrust analysis in labor markets, before summarizing panelists’ discussion of non-compete agreements and their recommendations for labor-market antitrust enforcement.