12th Grade Economics New York

Labor Market

This inquiry explores some of the dynamic changes occurring in the US labor markets through the investigation of the compelling question “Does it matter what I want to be when I grow up?” The importance of understanding labor markets in this inquiry is twofold: (1) students should be able to understand some of the changes that exist and persist in today’s labor markets, especially labor demand (or derived demand), and (2) students will benefit from understanding fluctuations in supply and demand and how they affect wages. While progressing through the inquiry, students should analyze the structural changes occurring in the labor markets and affirm or perhaps refocus their own career goals and pathways. In doing so, students can cement their theoretical understandings of supply and demand and the impact of market forces on their own career choices.

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Compelling Question:

Does It Matter What I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

Staging the Question:


Complete a job interest inventory and make a list of suitable and interesting career possibilities.
1

Supporting Question What economic trends have influenced labor market demand?

Formative Task List and explain five major trends that have influenced labor market demand in the past 20 years.

Sources Source A: “The Most Common Job In Every State” map
Source B: “Fastest Growing Occupations, 2012 and projected 2022”
Source C: Excerpt from The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the US Labor Market

2

Supporting Question How are producers affected by labor market supply?

Formative Task Write a paragraph that explains a possible skills gap in the US labor market and how the gap might affect labor market supply.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from Chasing the American Dream: Recent College Graduates and the Great Recession
Source B: “Jobs and Skills and Zombies”

3

Supporting Question How do market forces interact to create wage-price equilibrium?

Formative Task Guided Practice
Construct and annotate a changing labor market demand-and-supply graph for the US truck-driving industry over a 10-year period.

Sources Source A: The Labor Market—The Economic Lowdown Video Series, Episode 4
Source B: “The Most Common Job in Every State” map
Source C: Excerpt from “Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Job Outlook”

4

Supporting Question How do market forces interact to create wage-price equilibrium?

Formative Task Independent Practice
Construct and annotate a changing labor market demand-and-supply graph for one of the job selections from Staging the Compelling Question.

Sources Source A: Sources generated by students or teachers to support analysis

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Does it matter what I want to be when I grow up? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from contemporary sources while acknowledging competing views.
Extension: Debate the growing concerns about the rising cost of higher education and the extent to which college is worth the time, effort, and financial cost to students.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Research labor markets that students may wish to enter in the future.
Assess: Look at the wages paid in the profession identified in the previous step and assess why the wage is what it is and why it may have fluctuated due to changes in the supply of, and demand for, labor.
Act: Invite a career or guidance counselor, business teacher, or professional from the community to speak to the class about local labor market conditions.