Employee Update: Matt Rigling

Posted by Matt Rigling and Susie Wirtanen | Economics, Statistical Analysis

EmployStats is pleased to announce that employee Matt Rigling has been offered admission into UT Austin’s Masters Program and will begin taking classes in Summer 2017!  Matt will be completing the 18-month program to obtain his Masters Degree in Economics.  He looks forward to taking advanced analytical and econometric courses and bringing those skills to his work here at EmployStats.  Matt will be working full-time in his position of Research Associate at EmployStats while pursuing his advanced degree.

Matt Rigling began working for EmployStats in an Intern position in March 2015, and was promoted to Research Associate in May 2015 after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors Degree in Economics.  When he’s not crunching numbers for EmployStats, Matt enjoys watching the San Antonio Spurs and going on hikes with his puppy Zella.

Who is Doug Berg, Ph.D.?

Posted by Matt Rigling and Susie Wirtanen | Big Data, Economics, Statistical Analysis

Doug Berg, Ph.D., is an expert in big data, and has been working with EmployStats and Principal Economist Dr. Dwight Steward for several years regarding class action and discrimination lawsuits.  Dr. Berg is currently a professor at Sam Houston State University in the Department of Economics.  He received his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Minnesota, and his Ph.D. in Economics from Texas A&M University.  Dr. Berg will provide additional support and his expert insight into using big data in employment litigation.  Doug Berg, Ph.D., describes litigation as “living on data”, and the better the data, the better the argument.  EmployStats welcomes his insight into the underlying meaning behind the data our clients provide us!

Who is David Neumark, Ph.D.?

Posted by Matt Rigling and Susie Wirtanen | Economics, Employment, Statistical Analysis

We are joining forces with David Neumark, Ph.D., an expert on labor market discrimination in California, to bring a new air of expertise to the EmployStats team.  Dr. Neumark is the Chancellor’s Professor of Economics at U.C. Irvine, and has previously taught at Michigan State after starting his career at the Federal Reserve.  His primary work has focused on age and race discrimination, researching into new theories, as well as offering expert consulting for these discrimination cases.  Our highly skilled researchers will be providing support for Dr. Neumark in many of his large, complex employment litigation cases.  We are excited to have him on board!


Employee Update: Susan Wirtanen

Posted by Matt Rigling and Susie Wirtanen | Economics, Statistical Analysis

EmployStats Research Associate, Susan Wirtanen, recently visited New York, NY to attend a course in Stata.  Stata is a statistical software data analytics tool utilized by EmployStats analysts in almost all of our case work, especially wage and hour, and employment litigation.  The tools Susan learned in attending this training include data management, data manipulation, and tools used for complex analyses.  These skills will allow Susan to work quickly and efficiently through large data sets our clients may provide for analysis.   

Susan Wirtanen was hired at EmployStats in June 2016 as an Intern after graduating from the University of Texas in Austin with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics.  Susan recently began working full-time as a Research Associate at the beginning of 2017.  In addition to being a full-time employee, Susan coaches club volleyball here in Austin, and recently finished her first season of coaching.

This paper (ASSA 2016 link below) looks to study revenue and sales volatility at the firm level and how that relates to employee level of wages.  The main take away is that employee wages tend to be positively related to revunue shocks. That is, employers tend to keep employee wages steady and increasing over time regardless of the specific shocks that the firm may be experiencing at any given time. 

ASSA 2016 paper

Can Microlevel BLS data be used to study how and why employees are paid differently at US employers ?  This paper and the work ultimately looks to provide a method to use the Microlevel, i.e. individual level survey observations, to match dispersion measures like, the standard deviation, in big data BLS employment data. The first step for the researchers is to try and match the aggregate numbers to the micro numbers. 

Dr. Sandra Black, UT-Austin economics professor, looks at the impact of school starting age and family background on work earnings.   From her work:

We find that if you enter the labor market later, as a result you have less experience and so you get paid less than the people who are the same age who started earlier, but by age 30 you’ve caught up. – Dr. Sandra Black

Expectation damages are damages intended to cover what the injured party expected to receive from the a contract and usually have straightforward calculations based on the contract itself or market value.

‘Reference Guide on Estimation of Economic Losses in Damages Awards’, by Robert Hall and Victoria Lazear is a frequently cited source for more discussion on business damages.  The Reference Guide is part of the courts larger manual: : Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence.

Economist Robert Hall

Is economics a science: Of course it is!

Posted by Dwight Steward, Ph.D. | Economics

Raj Chetty, a professor at Harvard University, argues that economics is very much a solid science.  He argues that while economics has not been able to answer all big picture questions like – what causes recessions and the determinants of growth with perfect certainty.  He writes in the NY Times:


Nonetheless, economists have recently begun to overcome these challenges by developing tools that approximate scientific experiments to obtain compelling answers to specific policy questions. …today, the most prominent economists are often empiricists … who focus on testing old theories and formulating new ones that fit the evidence.

This kind of empirical work in economics might be compared to the “micro” advances in medicine (like research on therapies for heart disease) that have contributed enormously to increasing longevity and quality of life, even as the “macro” questions of the determinants of health remain contested.



The Economics department started a new one-year terminal Master’s degree this past summer.  The inaugural class of 40 students began classes in mid-July and, after completing a 10-course, 30-credit curriculum, will graduate in May 2014.  The rigorous program is the first of its kind in the state of Texas, and only a handful of similar programs (primarily on the East coast) currently exist.

Learn more…

The MA program at UT was designed for prospective students with any of the following goals:

  1. Qualifying for jobs in the private or government sector that require greater expertise in economic, analytical, and statistical tools than provided by an undergraduate degree;
  2. Obtaining the background in economics and mathematics required to gain admission to a high-quality economics PhD program;
  3. Studying economics as a complementary field to another area of expertise (law, political science, public health, statistics, energy, etc.).