Market concentration, the economist’s term for how much an industry is dominated by one or a few firms, touches ever more aspects of American life. From the obvious (the Amazons and Walmarts of the retail economy) to the obscure (the beer industry, which may appear diverse, is dominated by two firms), market concentration has increased in three-quarters of U.S. industries during the twenty-first century. This has had wide-ranging effects not only on consumers, but also, economists increasingly believe, on labor. “Fewer firms in a given industry makes it easier for them to have more bargaining power [over employees], and harder for workers to switch to another employer,” says Jason Furman, professor of the practice of economic policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and former chair of the Obama administration’s Council of Economic Advisers.

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