Professor Chris Tilly


University of Massachusetts Lowell

O'Leary Library, 500 O

61 Wilder Street

Lowell, MA  01854


Fall Office Hours: 


Mondays 2:00-3:30,

Tuesdays 3:30-5:00


And always by appointment.

I am a Professor of Regional Economic and Social Development and a Research Associate at the Center for Industrial Competitiveness.  I teach courses on economic development and research methods. In my research, I specialize in labor markets, with interests in inequality, urban development, and public policies directed toward better jobs. Although most of my research has been focused on the United States, I have traveled frequently to Latin America and the Caribbean over the past 30 years, and have written about development issues and social movements in Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, and Central America.  I have recently broadened my research agenda to include a new emphasis on jobs in Mexico, as well as undertaking comparative analyses with European and Latin American colleagues.   

My books include Half a Job: Bad and Good Part-Time Jobs in a Changing Labor Market (Temple University Press, 1996), Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits: Women's Work, Women's Poverty (with Randy Albelda, South End Press, 1997), Work Under Capitalism (with Charles Tilly, Westview Press, 1998), Stories Employers Tell: Race, Skill, and Hiring in America (Russell Sage Foundation, 2001), co-authored with Philip Moss of RESD, and American Cities in Transition: The Changing Face of Urban Inequality (Russell Sage Foundation, 2001), edited with Alice O’Connor and Lawrence Bobo.  I have also published numerous articles in English and Spanish, including essays in the Handbook of Economic Sociology, the Elgar Companion to Feminist Economics, the Sourcebook on Labor Markets, Poverty and Social Welfare in America: An Encyclopedia, the Handbook on the Economics of Discrimination, and La Nueva Situación del Trabajo en Mexico 2000-2003 (The New Situation of Labor in Mexico 2000-2003)

In addition to conducting scholarly research, I served for 20 years (1986-2006) an editor of Dollars and Sense, a popular economics magazine, and frequently conduct research for advocacy groups, community organizations, and labor unions. I served on the Program Committee and later the Board of Directors of Grassroots International from 1991-2003, ending that time as the Chair of the Board.  (I still work closely with Dollars and Sense and Grassroots International in an advisory capacity.)  I hold a joint Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Economics and Urban Studies and Planning. Before becoming an academic, I spent eight years doing community and labor organizing.

Hot Links:

Dollars and Sense:

Grassroots International:

Fall 2007 Courses:

Foundations of Comparative Regional Development, Tuesdays 6:00-8:50pm

Recent Publications (Selected)

“Under construction: The continuing evolution of job structures in call centers.”  With Philip Moss and Hal Salzman.  Industrial Relations, forthcoming.

“Wal-Mart and its workers: NOT the same all over the world.”  Connecticut Law Review, May 2007.

“The Mexican retail sector in the age of globalization: Lousy jobs, invisible unions.”  With José Luis Álvarez Galván.  International Labor and Working Class History, Fall 2006.

“Wal-Mart goes south: Sizing up the chain’s Mexican success story.”  In Stanley Brunn, ed., Wal-Mart World.  New York: Routledge, 2006.

“Bottom-up planning: Lessons from Latin America’s third left.”  With Marie Kennedy.  Progressive Planning, Summer 2006.

“Trabajo marginal: Trabajadores en el comercio y los servicios en México,” with José Luis Álvarez.  In Enrique de la Garza and Carlos Salas, editors, La Nueva Situación del Trabajo en Mexico 2000-2003.  Mexicio City: Instituto de Estudio del Trabajo, 2006.

“Learning about discrimination by talking to employers,” with Philip Moss.  In William Rodgers III, Handbook on the Economics of Discrimination.  Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2006.

“Labor market inequality, past and future: A perspective from the United States.”  In Lena Gönas and Jan Carlsson, Divisions of Gender and Work.  Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2006.

 “The economic environment of housing: Income inequality and insecurity.”  In Rachel Bratt, Chester Hartman, Mary Ellen Hombs, and Michael Stone, eds., Housing: Foundation for a New Social Agenda.  Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2006.

“Wal-Mart in Mexico: The limits of growth.”  In Nelson Lichtenstein, ed, Wal-Mart: Template for 21st Century Capitalism.  New York: New Press, 2005.

“Living wage laws in the United States: The dynamics of a growing movement.”   In Maria Kousis and Charles Tilly, eds., Threats and Opportunities in Contentious Politics.  Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2005.

“When firms restructure: Understanding work-life outcomes,” with Philip Moss and Hal Salzman.  In Ellen Kossek and Susan Lambert, eds., Work Life Integration in Organizations: New Directions for Theory and Practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005. 

Past Research (selected)

“Too many cooks? Tracking internal labor market dynamics in food service with case studies and quantitative data.”  With Julia Lane, Philip Moss, and Hal Salzman.  Eileen Appelbaum, Annette Bernhardt, and Richard Murnane, eds., Low-Wage America: How Employers Are Reshaping Opportunity in the Workplace.  New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 2003.

“Hiring in urban labor markets: Shifting labor demands, persistent racial differences,” with Philip Moss.  In Ivar Berg and Arne Kalleberg, eds, Sourcebook on Labor Markets: Evolving Structures and Processes (Plenum Press, 2001).  Reprinted in abridged form in Portuguese translation in Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios del Trabajo.

“Moving beyond ‘Get a job’: What real welfare reform would look like,” with Randy Albelda.  In Mary King, ed., Squaring Up:  Policy Strategies to Raise Women's Incomes in the United States (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2001). 

“Income distribution,” with Randy Albelda.  Meg Lewis and Janice Peterson, eds. The Elgar Companion to Feminist Economics.  New York: Elgar 2000.

“Part-time work, low-wage jobs, and class struggle in the United States.”  Trabajo (Mexico), Vol.2, No. 3, January 2000.

“Making labor law work for part-time and contingent workers,”  with Françoise Carré and Virginia duRivage.  In Kathleen Christensen and Kathleen Barker, eds., Contingent Work: American Employment Relations in Transition, Cornell University Press 1998.

“Arresting the decline of good jobs in the U.S.A.?” Industrial Relations Journal, December 1997.

“Buenos y malos empleos en los Estados Unidos al final del milenio.”  Sistema (Madrid, Spain), No.140-141, November 1997.

Hay que hacerlo bien: Lessons for progressive planners, scholars, and activists from Mauricio Gastón,” with Marie Kennedy. Colloqui: Cornell Journal of Planning and Urban Issues, 1997.

“Soft skills and race: An investigation of black men’s employment problems,” with Philip Moss. Work and Occupations Vol.23, No.3, 1996. Reprinted in abridged form in The Changing Nature of Work (Frontier Issues in Economic Thought series, Medford, MA: Global Development and Environment Institute 1998).

“Capitalist work and labor markets,” with Charles Tilly.  In Neil Smelser and Richard Swedberg, eds., Handbook of Economic Sociology, Princeton University Press and Russell Sage Foundation, 1994.

“Toward a broader vision: Race, gender, and labor market segmentation in the Social Structure of Accumulation framework,” with Randy Albelda, in David Kotz, Terence McDonough, and Michael Reich, eds., Social Structures of Accumulation: The Political Economy of Growth and Crisis, Cambridge University Press, 1994.

“Family structure and family earnings: How resources, opportunity, and effort shape earnings,” with Randy Albelda.  Industrial Relations, Spring 1994.

 “State strategy for developing base industries: A Massachusetts case study,” New England Journal of Public Policy Vol.19, No.1, 1993.

“Dualism in part‑time employment.”  Industrial Relations, Spring 1992.  Forthcoming in Spanish translation in the Arcadia monograph series (Madrid: Comisiones Obreras).   

“Transformative populism and the development of a community of color,”  with Marie Kennedy and Mauricio Gaston.  In Joseph Kling and Prudence Posner, eds., Dilemmas of Activism, Temple University Press, 1990.


Curriculm Vitae






2008 Spring RESD Courses