Harry J Holzer


John LaFarge Jr. SJ Professor of Public Policy


McCourt School of Public Policy
General profile



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Harry Holzer joined the McCourt School (then known as the Georgetown Public Policy Institute) as Professor of Public Policy in the Fall of 2000. He served as Associate Dean from 2004 through 2006 and was Acting Dean in the Fall of 2006. He is also currently an Institute Fellow at the American Institutes for Research, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings, a Senior Affiliate at the Urban Institute, and a Research Affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He has also been a faculty director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy. He received his BA (1978) and Ph.D. (1983) in Economics from Harvard University.

Prior to coming to Georgetown, Professor Holzer served as Chief Economist for the U.S. Department of Labor and professor of economics at Michigan State University. He has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in 1995, and a Faculty Research Fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Over most of his career, Professor Holzer's research has focused primarily on the low-wage labor market. He has extensively analyzed both the quality of jobs and employer hiring behaviors, on the one hand; and the skills and job-seeking efforts of workers in that market, on the other. He has written a great deal about the employment problems of African-American youth and men (particularly those with criminal records), advancement prospects for the working poor, and workforce policy more broadly. He has also written on policy issues such as the minimum wage, welfare reform, Affirmative Action, immigration policy, and education and training for middle-skill jobs.

Most recently he has analyzed the difficulties that disadvantaged students have in post-secondary education (particularly community college) and the labor market afterwards, as part of his work as the co-director of the Program on Postsecondary Education and the Labor Market for the Center on the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER).

His research on disadvantaged workers in the labor market has been funded by grants from the Gates Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Joyce Foundation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Institute for Research on Poverty, the Upjohn Institute, the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, Mott Foundation, the MacArthur foundation and the Public Policy Institute of California. He has testified many times before Congressional and other federal committees or commissions, and his columns appear very frequently in the nation's major media outlets.

Professor Holzer teaches courses for MPP students in statistical methods for program and policy evaluation at the McCourt School, as well as on anti-poverty policy and on labor market policy. In his past life at Michigan State, he has taught courses in labor market policy and institutions, poverty, and introductory macroeconomics. His other interests and activities include listening to jazz and reading politics/history. His wife Deborah is a clinical social worker and they have 3 daughters, aged 23, 16 and 16.

For working papers and published articles by Harry J. Holzer, use the following link:


For working papers, public testimonies and recent opinion pieces by Harry J. Holzer, use the following link:



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  • Ph.D. (1983) Harvard University, Economics
  • A.B. (1978) Harvard University, Economics