University of Michigan
Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy at the University of Michigan

Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy

The Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy (IRLEE) at the University of Michigan was established in July 2008 as a new entity, merging two longstanding university units, the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations (ILIR) and the Business and Industrial Assistance Division (BIAD). The new Institute builds on synergies already established by the Office of the Vice President for Research, which has oversight responsibility for the unit. As mandated by the Regents of the University, IRLEE’s mission is:

  • To provide economic development intervention services to communities, companies, and organizations experiencing economic transition and distress;
  • To provide academic, business, and policy constituencies with regular economic forecasts of local, state, regional, and related national trends;
  • To advance understanding of the effects of economic restructuring on the economic and social well-being of adults, children, families, and communities;
  • To evaluate the impacts of economic interventions geared toward advancing innovation, increasing entrepreneurship, and improving the economy;
  • To foster a core of interdisciplinary scholars, including future researchers, with interests in the causes and consequences of economic restructuring; and
  • To disseminate research results to policy, government, business, public, and academic communities via peer-reviewed scholarly publications, working papers, instructional course content, special reports, seminar series, press releases, conferences, and briefings.

In keeping with this mission, IRLEE comprises nine centers and programs that address various aspects of the overall mission. These centers are described individually in the links provided on this website.

IRLEE serves as an academic resource, providing internships and other field experience opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students from diverse schools within the University: the Ross School of Business, the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the Ford School of Public Policy, the School of Information, the School of Social Work, and the School of Public Health. At any given time, there are between fifty and sixty students involved with almost every project at IRLEE. Undergraduates come from UROP, the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program; in fact, IRLEE is the single biggest placement source for UROP students. Most of the students get course credit for their work at IRLEE, and some are paid through the work-study program.

IRLEE is developing summer internships for graduate students for placement in communities where they will be working on community and economic development projects. The summer internship program currently involves three states (Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana) and two more are under consideration (Wisconsin and Illinois).