+ Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
+ MUPP, University of Illinois at Chicago
+ B.A., University of Pennsylvania
Research and practice
Bill Lester is an Assistant Professor at DCRP specializing in economic development. His research focuses on the role of labor market institutions in fostering greater equity at the urban and metropolitan scales. His is an expert on the impact of minimum wage and living wage policies on urban economic development.
Dr. Lester employs quantitative and qualitative methods drawn from the fields of labor economics, political science and regional development. While his research on the minimum wage and living wage has garnered national attention recently--including a mention in the State of the Union address--he continues to broaden his research agenda within the field of economic development.
He is currently collaborating with Nikhil Kaza, Daniel Rodriguez, Yan Song and Phil Berke on a project funded by the What Works Collaborative that examines the links between economic development and land use and builds a strategy for preserving industrial land in urban areas.
Dr. Lester is also continuing a variety of research projects aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of economic development incentive programs. Specifically, he completed a research project focused on the effectiveness and economic impact of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in Chicago. He also published an evaluation of the use of economic development incentives in North Carolina.
Dr. Lester is also engaged in numerous projects that study the potential for environmental solutions to generate meaningful employment opportunities in the so-called "green economy." This work takes the form of academic publications, original policy proposals, and project-based consulting using IMPLAN.
Dr. Lester teaches one core planning course (PLAN 714) as well as the quantitative methods course in the economic development specialization (PLAN 771-Development Planning Techniques). He also teaches a First Year Seminar (PLAN 89- Urban Growth, Structure, and the Response to Economic Crises).
Lester, T. William. (forthcoming) “Chicago’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Program: Does it pass the ‘But-For’ Test? Evidence Using Time Series Data” Urban Studies.
Lester, T. William. (forthcoming) “The Role of History in Redistributional Policy Discourse: Evidence from Living Wage Campaigns in Chicago and San Francisco” Journal of Urban Affairs.
Lester, T. William, Lowe, Nichola, and Freyer, Alan. (forthcoming) “Mediating Incentive Use: A Time-Series Assessment of Economic Development Deals in North Carolina” Economic Development Quarterly.
Lester, T. William and Reckhow, Sarah. May 2013. “Network Governance and Regional Equity: Shared Agendas or Problematic Partners?” Planning Theory. Online First: August 24th, 2012.
Lester, T. William. 2012. “Labor Standards and Local Economic Development—Do Living Wage Provisions Harm Economic Growth?” Journal of Planning Education and Research. Fall 32(3): 331-348.
“Innovation in the Green Economy: An Extension of the Regional Innovation System Model” with Chapple, Karen, Kroll, Cyntia, Lester, T. William and Montero, Sergio. Economic Development Quarterly. February 2011 25(1): 5-25.
Dube, Arindrajit, Lester, T. William and Reich, Michael. 2010. “Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders: Evidence from Contiguous Counties” Review of Economics and Statistics, November 92(4): 945-64.
Chapple, Karen and Lester, T. William. 2010. “The resilient regional labour market: The US case” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society. 3(1): 85-104.
Pastor, Manuel, Lester, T. William, and Scoggins, Justin. 2009. “Why Regions? Why Now and Who Cares” Journal of Urban Affairs. 31(3): 269-296.
“The Long Term Employment Impacts of Gentrification in the 1990s" with Daniel Hartley.
“Do Frictions Matter in the Labor Market? Accessions, Separations and Minimum Wage Effects” With Arindrajit Dube and Michael Reich. UC Berkeley, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE), Working Paper No. 222-10
"Dedicating New Real Estate Transfer Taxes for Energy Efficiency: A Revenue Option for Scaling up Green Retrofit Programs"
“Creating Good Jobs in Our Communities” (Center For American Progress Report with Ken Jacobs) November 30, 2010.
Interview with Radio New Zealand on Minimum Wage Increases
Minimum wage research featured in the Spoksman Review