The Labor market impact of the proposed Sprint–T-Mobile merger

By Adil Abdela, Marshall Steinbaum |

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In partnership with the Economic Policy Institute, Roosevelt Research Associate Adil Abdela and Research Director and Fellow Marshall Steinbaum examine the impact of the proposed Sprint/T-Mobile merger on the labor market. Cutting the number of national players in the U.S. wireless industry from four to three, this move would escalate market power in the industry and worsen wages for wireless retail workers.

Abdela and Steinbaum find that, if the Sprint–T-Mobile merger is approved, average weekly earnings for retail wireless workers would decline by between 1 and 3 percent in most affected labor markets, with earnings falling by as much as 7 percent in the most-affected labor markets. For the 50 most-affected labor markets, those percent changes correspond to a decline in annual earnings of between $520 and $3276 on average.

In this paper, Abdela and Steinbaum provide a framework for how regulators can integrate labor markets into merger review. As explored in The Effective Competition Standard, antitrust law and enforcement must be renewed in the 21 st century economy by going beyond consumer prices and taking workers’ wages and working conditions into account when examining mergers. The health of our economy, society, and democracy depends on it.

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Adil Abdela is a Research Associate at the Roosevelt Institute, where he researches market power and financialization. He assists Marshall Steinbaum, Lenore Palladino, and Mike Konczal in their research of financial reform, antitrust and competition policy, and the labor market. Prior to working at the Roosevelt Institute, he interned at the Department of the Treasury for the Office of Financial Stability. He earned his B.A in Economics at the University of Maryland, and is currently obtaining his M.P.S in Applied Economics there.

Marshall Steinbaum is a Fellow and Research Director at the Roosevelt Institute, where he researches market power and inequality. He works on tax policy, antitrust and competition policy, and the labor market, in particular declining entrepreneurship and labor mobility as well as credentialization and its result: the student debt crisis. He is a co-editor of After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality (Harvard University Press 2017), and his work has appeared in Democracy, Boston Review, New Republic, American Prospect, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, and ProMarket. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.