Michael Yates (economist)

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Michael D. Yates (born 1946) is an economist and a labor educator, and associate editor of the socialist magazine Monthly Review (MR).

He advocates a socialist view of economics.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Yates was born in a small coal mining town about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His grandmother worked on a barge boat as a cook and a servant for families in Manhattan, Newport and other wealthy enclaves. His immediate family had a long history working at dangerous, unhealthy jobs in the coal mines. At the age of 14, his mother took a job unloading dynamite at the entrance of the coal mines. His mother, uncle and grandmother all suffered from severe asthma from the dust generated by the mines. His father suffered emphysema from inhaling asbestos and silica dust at work.[2]

Life for the Yates was a difficult one. Yates' father did not live with the family; the only employment he could get was in a glass factory several miles away. The Yates home did not have running water, and was owned by the mining company. When Michael was one year old, his mother moved the family to be with his father.[2]

These experiences had a deep impact on Yates, radicalizing him. As the Vietnam War intensified while he was a graduate student, his leftist tendencies strengthened:

I am sure that the experience of growing up in the heart of the working class and learning from my parents, and especially from my grandmother ... that life was not especially fair and always full of bad possibilities, helped shape my future take on life. Then what really transformed my thinking was the war in Vietnam and trying to be a good teacher. The war was so obviously evil and bore down most heavily upon working class youth that it made me think about things more deeply than I had before. It disillusioned me completely and forever about the government. And it made me aware that the media and the government lied almost as a matter of course. But it also opened my eyes to what was really going on in this country.[2]

Yates attended graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh (UP) from 1967 to 1973, although only the first two years were full-time.

Teaching and later career[edit]

In the summer of 1968, Yates received his induction notice. With the encouragement of an academic advisor, he applied for a teaching position at UP's satellite campus in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He was appointed an assistant professor in 1969. He worked part-time on his degree while teaching.[2]

Yates received his Ph.D. in economics from UP in 1976. He was given tenure by UP shortly after completing his doctorate.

Although Yates continued to teach at UP-Johnstown, in 1980 he began to teach workers and labor activists as well. He traveled all over the state of Pennsylvania and into West Virginia and Ohio, educating workers about labor unions, their right to form a union, and economics.[2]

Yates began a long-time relationship with Monthly Review in the mid-1970s. He published a number of articles in the publication over the years. The relationship between Yates and MR's editorial staff grew close. Monthly Review Press eventually agreed to publish Yates' first book, Longer Hours, Fewer Jobs: Employment and Unemployment in the United States. Three more books and a co-edited volume followed. Eventually, Yates was asked to become a part-time editor at MR.

During the mid-1980s Yates divorced his first wife and several years later married a second time and had four children.

In 2001, Yates retired from his position at UP-Johnstown. He and his wife lived an itinerant existence, spending significant amounts of time in Yellowstone National Park, Manhattan, Miami Beach and Portland, Oregon.[2] These travels were documented in the book Cheap Motels and a Hotplate.

After his retirement, Yates became a full-time associate editor at Monthly Review.[2]

Published works[edit]

Solely authored works[edit]

Co-edited works[edit]

  • Meiksins Wood, Ellen; Meiksins, Peter; and Yates, Michael D., eds. Rising from the Ashes?: Labor in the Age of "Global" Capitalism. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1998. ISBN 0-85345-939-8


  1. ^ Stevenson, Labour/Le Travail, #55 (Spring 2005).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Seidman, Counterpunch, Nov. 26, 2003.

External links[edit]


  • Seidman, Derek. "Naming the System: An Interview with Michael Yates." Counterpunch. November 26, 2003. [1]
  • Stevenson, Paul. "Reviews/Comptes Rendus: Michael D. Yates, Naming the System: Inequality and Work in the Global Economy. " Labour/Le Travail. #55 (Spring 2005). [2]
  • Yates, Michael D. "Teachers and the Flag: Taking the Pledge." Counterpunch. June 28, 2002. [3]