Gregory DeFreitas is a Professor of Economics and an expert on labor studies. Before joining Hofstra's faculty, he taught at Barnard College, Columbia University, the University of Toronto, and Cambridge University. He was educated at Stanford, Cambridge, and Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D.
Dr. DeFreitas has written widely on job and pay trends, the economics of immigration, earnings inequality, youth unemployment and the New York City economy. And he has testified on these issues before Congressional committees and the New York City Council. He is also the founding editor of the "Regional Labor Review," which focuses on current employment issues in the New York Metropolitan Area.
His book "Inequality At Work" was chosen as one of the year’s Outstanding Social Science Books. He has testified on these issues before Congressional committees and the New York City Council.
Industry Expertise (4)
Writing and Editing
Areas of Expertise (13)
African Economic Development
Economics of Immigration
Economics of Small Business
African Labor Issues
New York City Economy
Member of the Research Advisory Boards of the Economic Policy Institute (Washington D.C.), the Fiscal Policy Institute (NYC), and the Center for the Study of Working Class Life (SUNY Stony Brook). (professional)
His economic consulting services have been used by both government agencies and law firms. He is also a frequent reviewer of articles for economics and labor studies journals and of book manuscripts for several publishers.
Columbia University: Ph.D. 1979
Stanford University: B.A. 1971
- Member of the Research Advisory Boards of the Economic Policy Institute
- Member of the Fiscal Policy Institute
- Member of the Center for the Study of Working Class Life (SUNY Stony Brook)
Media Appearances (23)
Too Hot to Work? America's Next Big Labor Battle
Newsweek talked to Dr. DeFreitas for this story focusing on the impact of the summer heat on the economy and the labor force. Between June and July, a utility lineman and USPS carrier are reported to have died in Texas while working in triple digit temperatures. The article goes on to say that while there is a minimum working temperature in the U.S., there’s no maximum working temperature set by law at a federal level. The CDC makes recommendations for employers to avoid heat stress in the workplace, but these are not legally binding requirements. “There’s remarkably little in terms of regulation, and of course, given our divided political views in this country—on the right, Republicans in general, are trying to resist more regulation that’s premised on continuing global warming,” Dr. DeFreitas said.
Long Island's gender wage gap largest in New York, state data shows
Newsday and WCBS-AM
Dr. DeFreitas was interviewed by Newsday and WCBS-AM about data from the New York State Department of Labor that found women working on Long Island are facing the biggest gender wage gap in the state, making just over 80% of what their male counterparts earn.
No Summer Vacation? You're Not Alone
Gregory DeFreitas was interviewed by Newsweek for a story that reports nearly 50 percent of American workers won’t be going anywhere on vacation in the next three months because of the higher cost of living, while 60 percent of those who are going said affordability still played a huge role in their planning. Dr. DeFreitas said one key reason that workers might think the U.S. economy is in such bad shape is wages, which have not kept up with the rising cost of living. “While the job market is strong, by most measures, wage growth isn’t,” he told Newsweek. “We actually had a fall in real wages by nearly 2 percent in the first quarter of this year. With prices rising on average faster than wages, a lot of Americans feel that something’s very much wrong.”
Life for American Workers in 2023 Has Been Worse Than We Thought
Gregory DeFreitas was interviewed by Newsweek for the article, “Life for American Workers in 2023 Has Been Worse Than We Thought.” The average American worker is toiling away for 2.2 percent more hours than they did in the previous fiscal quarter, according to first-quarter economic data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unfortunately, high levels of inflation have largely invalidated those gains. A study from Metlife one year prior found Americans’ job satisfaction had hit a 20-year low in the history of their survey, driven by what they described as a “change in expectations driven by younger employees during the pandemic.” “While economists disagree about recent discouraging U.S. productivity trends, there’s little question that worker morale—a key factor behind productivity—is being hurt when their real wages fall,” said Dr. DeFreitas. “So why are nominal wages still rising slower than consumer prices for most [not all] workers in a tight job market?”
State report on pay gap: Women in New York in 2021 earned about 88 cents for every dollar men earn
To commemorate Equal Pay Day, Gregory DeFreitas was interviewed by Newsday about a report by the state Department of Labor that found women in New York who worked full time earned 88.2 cents for every $1 a man earned in 2021. “At a national level, even in states like New York, there is what’s called a motherhood penalty and a fatherhood bonus,” said Dr. DeFreitas. “New mothers tend to have their wages depressed when they return to work whereas fathers’ wages tend to rise slightly. There’s something in the way in which employers respond to parenthood that seems to be worsening the problem.”
New York State has lowest quit rate in nation, new numbers show
Gregory DeFreitas was interviewed by Newsday for an article about workers in New York State having the lowest job resignation rates in the country. Dr. DeFreitas said that stronger worker protections in New York through unions as well as higher pay rates, even for the jobs that pay the least, help explain the state's low quit rates.
Union membership up on Long Island, bucking national trend, report finds
Newsday spoke to Economics Professor Greg DeFreitas, director of the Center for the Study of Labor and Democracy about a new study by the Center that showed the union membership rate on Long Island in higher than in New York City.
Millennials and immigrants buck national trend for driving labor union strength on Long Island
WSHU, NPR tv
WSHU and NPR public radio spoke to Economics Professor Greg DeFreitas, director of the Center for the Study of Labor and Democracy his new study on union membership.
Long Island Union Labor Rises Amid National, City Declines, New Report Says
Long Island Press online
The Long Island Press spoke to Economics Professor Greg DeFreitas, director of the Center for the Study of Labor and Democracy about a new study by the Center that showed the union membership rate on Long Island in higher than in New York City.
Analysis: Big victory at Amazon gives unions promise - but no end to challenges
A vote by Amazon workers to organize their warehouse in New York surprised and inspired long-time labor backers, for whom a new reality is settling in: It can be done, though it won't be easy. The company said it may file objections, and if and when the ALU's victory is finalized, it still must win a contract. That can be as hard as winning an election, said Gregory DeFreitas, a professor of labor economics at Hofstra University.
New weekly LI jobless claims dip below 10,000 for first time since March
Dr. Gregory DeFreitas, professor of economics and founding director of the Labor Studies degree program, was interviewed by Newsday after Long Island saw a major drop in the number of newly filed unemployment claims. It marked the first time in more than two months that new jobless claims fell below 10,000. “We look for any glimmers of hope,” Dr. DeFreitas told Newsday. The recent week’s data still showed that there’s “still 10 times as many people receiving unemployment benefits for this time of year than is normal.” Just over 1,500 Long Islander filed unemployment claims during the same time period last year.
Long Island jobless rate soars to 16%, data show
Dr. Gregory DeFreitas, professor of economics, founding director of the Labor Studies degree program, was recently interviewed by Newsday about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on local unemployment numbers and what the rebound might be now that the phased reopening has started. One of the biggest hurdles for the economy, DeFreitas said, is what will happen to schools and the broader child care industry. “The fourth phase, of course, is especially important because that includes schools,” he told Newsday. “If you’re a working mom or dad that’s been allowed to go back to work in Phase 2 or 3, whether or not your kid is going to be allowed to go to school during the day is going to be very, very important.”
LI companies cut more than 7,600 jobs as pandemic halts business
Layoffs have skyrocketed on Long Island, as scores of larger Long Island companies have temporarily cut more than 7,600 employees at car dealerships, restaurants, medical offices and other businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 3,600 of the Island’s 108,000 companies have 50 or more employees. All told, they account for about half the private-sector jobs on Long Island, said Gregory DeFreitas, senior labor economics professor at Hofstra University. A Newsday analysis of staff reduction notices filed with the state demonstrate the virus’s far-reaching impacts. Companies employing 50 or more people — about 4% of the private sector businesses on Long Island — are required to file layoff notices, known as Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN. The notices are posted online daily. More than 175,000 Long Islanders have filed for unemployment in the past four weeks. “I think the WARN numbers are undoubtedly underestimates of what’s going on,” said DeFreitas, who is also director of the Center for Labor and Democracy at Hofstra.
More than 175,000 LIers have filed jobless claims in the last 4 weeks
Almost 60,000 Long Islanders filed unemployment insurance claims last week as the coronavirus shutdown continued to spark an unprecedented wave of layoffs across the region and the nation. On the Island, 59,526 residents filed for unemployment benefits in the week ended April 11, marking a 4,386% increase over the 1,327 claims that were filed the same week a year ago. During the week prior, Long Islanders filed 55,361 claims. “Long Island is having an unusually high jump in unemployment claims,” Gregory DeFreitas, senior labor economics professor at Hofstra University said Wednesday.
LI hospitals target millennial workers to prepare for aging population
“For millennials on Long Island, a lot of the new jobs are in health care,” Dr. Gregory DeFreitas, professor of economics, said in a recent Newsday article. The report discusses how local health care employers are actively recruiting younger workers. The industry is bracing itself for Long Island’s aging population – which includes its healthcare workers who will need medical attention themselves. The article says currently one fifth of the region’s millennials are working in the health care industry.
Long Island wage increases barely keep ahead of inflation
Last year, metro New York prices rose an average of 2 percent, so the real, after-inflation wage rise was only 0.5 percent in Nassau and 1.4 percent in Suffolk, said economist Gregory DeFreitas, who heads Hofstra University's labor studies program. "All this needs to be kept in the context of rising price inflation lately that has eaten away most of the purchasing power of the higher pay," he said.
State parks boost Long Island’s economy, report says
Dr. Gregory DeFreitas, professor of economics, founding director of the Labor Studies degree program and director the Center for the Study of Labor and Democracy was interviewed by Newsday about a report that says state parks boost Long Island’s economy. They are good for public health and job generators. Some of the benefits, while they can’t be definitively monetized, are deeply valued by residents. That sense of well-being may be reflected in higher property values and lower crime rates.
Union Membership on LI Still Below Pre-Recession Level
“Union membership on Long Island hasn’t recovered from losses sustained during the Great Recession,” reports Newsday, based on its interview with Dr. Gregory DeFreitas, Hofstra University professor of economics, founding director of the Labor Studies degree program and director the Center for the Study of Labor and Democracy. Dr. DeFreitas and Dr. Bhaswati Sengupta of Iona College have authored a study on union membership, timed for Labor Day. Still the study reports that New York state is leading the nation in unionization with more than 20 percent of its workforce in unions. The current national average is 10.7 percent. The downstate New York metropolitan area has the highest union membership rate of all the country’s large metro regions. Of its wage and salary employees, 21.4 per cent are in unions – more than twice the national average outside New York.
Job market for Long Island college grads starts to improve
Article on study by Dr. DeFreitas.
Wage gap widens between high school, college grads
Article on study by Dr. DeFreitas.
LI’s college-educated millennials struggling at work: Study
Article on study by Dr. DeFreitas.
$15 minimum wage comes to L.I. . . . in 2021
Long Island Report online
Article with contributions by Dr. DeFreitas.
Health care employment leads Long Island job growth
Dr. Gregory DeFreitas, director of the Center for the Study of Labor and Democracy was interviewed by Newsday for an article, “Healthy Healthy Care,” about continued job growth on Long Island in the health care industry.
Research Focus (1)
Research interests include ...
Economics of immigration, earnings inequality, youth unemployment, economics of small business, labor unions, African labor issues, and the New York City economy
Labor Economics, Urban Economics, Microeconomics, African Economic Development, Research Methods
PRINC ECONOMICS (BH) LABOR ECONOMICS (BH) LABOR ECONOMICS SENIOR SEMINAR IN LABOR STUDIES
The State of New York Unions 2012Regional Labor Review
2012 New York has, for nearly two decades, had the highest proportion of its workforce represented by unions of any state in the country. By 2006, the last year before the latest recession, 24.5 per cent of the state’s employees were union members – twice the national rate. But the national economic crisis that began in 2008 struck with particular force in heavily unionized industries like construction and manufacturing. And many state and local governments responded to mounting budget gaps by cutting unionized public sector jobs. What have been the cyclical impacts of the recession and the still-incomplete recovery on union representation? This paper explores this and related questions by focusing on New York, in particular the state’s economic engine and population center, the New York City metropolitan area, centered in New York City and Long Island. We investigate the major characteristics of and trends in recent unionization in the New York Metropolitan Area through an empirical analysis of large microdata sets from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Surveys...
At the Epicenter of an Economic Earthquake: New York Confronts the Great RecessionRegional Labor Review
2009 The global economic crisis surged into 2009, setting one depressing record after another. The U.S. economy shrank by –6.2% in the October-to-December quarter – its steepest decline in over a quarter-century. In those same months, the country lost 1.7 million jobs. For all of 2008, the job count shrank every month, totaling nearly 3.1 million fewer jobs at year’s end. As of this March, the cumulative losses total 5.1 million jobs, more than in any other recession since the Great Depression...
The State of New York Unions 2007Regional Labor Review
2007 Working people with union representation average much higher wages and benefits today than do otherwise comparable non-union employees. So, in an age of relatively stagnant real wages and eroding benefits for most American workers, union coverage is an important indicator of a region’s labor market health. This report aims to provide the first detailed description of the major characteristics of and trends in recent unionization in the New York Metropolitan Area. The empirical analysis was conducted on large microdata sets from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Surveys