James Sherk

James Sherk

Former Research Fellow, Labor Economics, Center for Data Analysis

As research fellow in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation, James Sherk researched ways to promote competition and mobility.

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As a former research fellow in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation, James Sherk researched ways to promote competition and mobility in the workforce rather than erect barriers that prevent workers from getting ahead.

Sherk’s writings address the economic benefits of right-to-work laws; why participation in the labor force dropped during the recession; and how automation has affected the labor market.

His research showed that federal employees make significantly more than comparable workers in the private sector. The findings attracted widespread national attention and contributed to the decision of President Obama and congressional leaders to suspend scheduled across-the-board pay increases for federal workers. 

Sherk has been a national leader in the movement to experiment with local right-to-work laws. His research on the topic helped spur many Kentucky counties to pass right-to-work using the home rule powers the state legislature delegated them.

Sherk’s labor reform work formed the basis for the advance of legislation in Congress to allow union members to earn pay increases above their union rate. Under current law, unionized employers may not pay individuals more without the union’s permission.

Sherk, who joined Heritage in 2006, frequently testifies before committees of Congress on labor policy issues. He has testified before the House Education and Workforce Committee, Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Joint Economic Committee, and the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee. 

Sherk has also testified before state legislatures across the country, including the Wisconsin legislature as it debated passing right-to-work. His testimony identified errors in union-backed studies claiming right-to-work laws lower wages. Sherk explained to legislators that correcting these errors shows right-to-work laws have no negative effect on wages but do increase employment.

Sherk’s commentary and analysis have appeared in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, USA Today, Washington Times, Business Week and Roll Call.  CNN, Fox News Channel, CNBC and PBS are among TV news outlets to feature his analysis of pressing labor issues. 

Sherk completed graduate studies at the University of Rochester, where he received a master of arts in economics with a concentration in econometrics and labor economics. He also holds a bachelor's degree in economics and mathematics from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich. Sherk resides with his beloved wife in northern Virginia.