Aaron Sojourner, labor economist

Aaron Sojourner

Labor Economist

W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

CV  Bio


Sojourner is a labor economist and senior researcher at the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.  His research focuses on (1) effects of labor-market institutions, (2) policies to promote efficient and equitable development of human capital with a focus on early childhood and K-12 education systems, and (3) behavioral economic approaches to consumer finance decisions. The Economics JournalJournal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Public Economics, ILR Review, Journal of Policy Analysis & Management, Management Science, Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS), and other journals have published his work and he serves on the ILR Review international editorial board. His research earned the 2020 Cozzarelli Prize from the editors of PNAS and the 2015 John T. Dunlop Scholar Award from the Labor & Employment Relations Association.

Sojourner has a wide range of policy experience and community service. He is a member of the Minnesota State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Care and Education. He took leave for the 2016-’17 academic year and spent the year in Washington, D.C. serving as senior economist for labor at the U.S. President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) for Presidents Obama and Trump. At the White House, CEA gives objective economic advice on the formulation of economic policy. Previously, he served on Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’s Cradle-to-K Cabinet advising the city on how to reduce racial disparities through policies affecting children’s first three years. He also served as a member of the Human Capital Research Collaborative’s steering committee, a director of Spring Bank, a community bank in the Bronx and Harlem, N.Y, and a fellow in the U.S. Senate’s Labor Policy Office. He is a research fellow at IZA, the leading European labor-economics research institute, and a visiting scholar at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank.

Sojourner completed his Ph.D. in economics at Northwestern University in 2009 and was a pre-doctoral fellow in the university’s Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences. He also has an M.A. in public policy analysis from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in history from Yale University. From 2009 to 2022, he worked at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and remains an Affiliated Researcher there.


Senior Researcher, W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2022 – present

Associate Professor (Tenured), Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, 2017 – 2022

Senior Economist, U.S. President’s Council of Economic Advisers, 2016 – 2017

Assistant Professor, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, 2009 – 2017 (on leave: 2016 – 2017)

Researcher, Chapin Hall Center for Children, University of Chicago, 2003 – 2004

Organizer and Asst. to National Political Director, Carpenters Union, 1995 – 2001


Best Paper, Strategy Science Conference at NYU Stern (2022)

The Cozzarelli Prize in Behavioral and Social Sciences 2020, editorial board of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Best Paper, Cherry Blossom Conference 2019, Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center

Senior Fellow, 2019, Casey Family Programs

Awardee, Faculty Service Award 2017, Carlson School of Management

Awardee, Mary and Jim Lawrence Fellowship 2017, Carlson School of Management

Awardee, John T. Dunlop Scholar 2015 for outstanding academic contributions to research that addresses an industrial relations/employment problem of national significance, Labor & Employment Relations Association

Finalist, Paul A. Samuelson Award 2015 for outstanding scholarly writing on lifelong financial security, for Goda, Manchester & Sojourner (2014).


Nonresident Fellow, Brookings Institution Metro Program, 2023 –

Member, Minnesota State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care, 2019 –

Chair, Constellation Impact Council, Constellation Fund, 2018 –

Visiting Scholar, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank – Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute, 2017 –

Member, Human Capital & Economic Opportunity Working Group, 2017 –

Member, Industrial & Labor Relations Review international editorial board, 2015  –

Research Fellow, Institute for the Study of Labor/Institut zur Zukunft der Arbeit (IZA), Bonn, Germany, 2009 –

Affiliated faculty member
University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics
University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Steering committee, Human Capital Research Collaborative
  • Advisor, Nimble
  • Director & Board Chair, Spring Bank

Remembrance of Sue Sojourner, 1941-2020