About Paul @paulsolman
Paul Solman has been a business, economics and occasional art correspondent for the PBS NewsHour since 1985.
As you can see below, he used to have lots of hair. In the '60s, his father found it amusing to say, "you don't need a haircut so much as an estimate." His intramural softball teammates at Brandeis University dubbed him "the Black Medusa."
That same year, 1963, he joined the Brandeis newspaper, The Justice, and eventually became its editor. He got his first paid journalism job in 1970 at the alternative weekly Boston After Dark, where the picture was taken. Then and now, he did much of his work on the phone.
Paul became founding editor of the rival alternative weekly The Real Paper in 1972 and went on to become a feature writer and investigative reporter. He became interested in business when he set out to do a story about municipal bond rates (this was 1976) and realized he was clueless. As was, he realized, the entire booming generation in his wake. Here was an opportunity. But how to seize it? How about going to business school?
Having no money for tuition, Paul applied for a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard and lucked out, joining the Harvard Business School MBA class of 1977-8. He embarked on a career as a business reporter at WGBH Boston immediately thereafter. It was about this time, as one grandchild later put it, "your hair got lost."
After a few years of local PBS reporting, he inaugurated the PBS business documentary series, ENTERPRISE with fellow Nieman Fellow Zvi Dor-Ner. (There was also a Nieman felon in their class, but that's for someone else's biography.)
In the 1980s, Paul produced documentaries, returned to local reporting, and joined the Harvard Business School faculty, teaching media, finance and business history in the school's Advanced Management Program. He also co-authored a better-than-average-seller, Life and Death on the Corporate Battlefield (1983), which appeared in Japanese, German and a pirated Taiwanese edition. He joined "MacNeil/Lehrer" in 1985, two years after it become an hour-long news show, and has been the program's Economics Correspondent ever since, with occasional forays into art and sport.
In the '90s, with sociologist Morrie Schwartz, a teacher of his at Brandeis, Paul helped create -- and wrote the introduction to -- the book "Morrie: In His Own Words," which preceded "Tuesdays with Morrie" by a year or more, but failed to outsell it by several orders of magnitude.
In 2015, Paul co-authored an actual bestseller (#1 on Amazon for four straight days!), Get What's Yours: the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security. It had to be revised in 2016 because Social Security provisions were changed, perhaps in response to the book.
Paul has lectured on college campuses since the '80s and has written for numerous publications, including the Journal of Economic Education. He thinks he's the only person, besides John Kenneth Galbraith, to have written for both Forbes and Mother Jones magazines; he was for years East Coast editor of the latter. A one-time cab driver, kindergarten teacher, crafts store co-owner and management consultant, he is also the author and presenter of "Discovering Economics with Paul Solman," a series of videos to accompany introductory economics textbooks.
In 2007, he joined the faculty at Yale, where he added a dose of communications know-how and economics to the university's Grand Strategy course for a decade. In 2011, he was the Richman Distinguished Visiting Professor at his alma mater, Brandeis, where he taught a seminar, "Economic Grand Strategies: From Chimps to Champs? Or Chumps?" He has lectured at campuses across the country, has taught regularly at West Point, and at Gateway Community College in New Haven, CT. In 2016, he was a Visiting Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford University. He is also president of the new making-friends-across-the-political-divide group, "Us."
Paul took up tennis at 50 and plays with a knee brace. He'd like to shave off his mustache but is afraid to. He wears a hat because his doctor insists. He is married with children and grandchildren. He loves them to death.
Paul’s Recent Stories
Nation Jul 26The manufacturing sector needs workers. Training high schoolers could help fill that void
Even as the U.S. labor picture improves, the manufacturing sector is still struggling with a shortage of workers and raw materials. An analysis by Deloitte found that over two million manufacturing jobs will be unfilled through 2030. Economic correspondent Paul…
Nation Jul 08Baby boomers on their role in social change and how luck affected their prosperity
The COVID-19 shutdown and recession may have exacerbated an already growing division in popular culture between Millennials and baby boomers. On Wednesday, we heard from millennials. Tonight, we continue our look at generational tensions over economic disparities with perspective from…
Nation Jul 07‘OK, boomer’: What’s behind millennials’ growing resentment for their predecessors?
The downturn of the pandemic economy has hit many groups hard. But for many millennials — those born between 1981 and 1996 — and Generation Z, who follow them, that pain — plus a number of other factors — are…
Economy Jul 01A tech apprenticeship program helping middle America find jobs without college
Even before the pandemic sent shock waves through the U.S economy, innovation had always been a key to success in business. As part of our "Work Shift" series, economics correspondent Paul Solman looks at one businessman whose determination to locate…
Making Sen$e Jun 16Exploring the economic argument for a return to open US borders
Since taking office in January, President Joe Biden has made a number of moves to change former President Trump's hardline immigration policies. But just last week, Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a tough message in Guatemala, telling its citizens not…
Making Sen$e Jun 03How a rise in remote employment may impact post-pandemic work life
Unemployment claims dropped again Thursday, and this week may also bring a clearer picture of what's happening with the job market. As more Americans get vaccinated, workers and companies are figuring out what post-pandemic work life will look like --…
Making Sen$e May 20The US has a ‘thirst’ for immigrant workers. Why do so many struggle to get legal status?
President Joe Biden has said that changing immigration law remains an important piece of his agenda. But the path to new legislation is complex and hardly clear. One of the biggest flashpoints in this debate are questions about undocumented workers…
Nation Apr 26On the road, and online: How the people that inspired “Nomadland” make a living
This past year was no traditional year for the movies - or for the Oscar awards. But there were excellent films and more diversity in the nominations. Chloe Zhao became the first woman of color to win Best Director for…
Making Sen$e Mar 29A look into Amazon’s employee conditions as the company pushes back against unionization
For almost two months, Amazon workers have been voting on whether to unionize at one of the company's major warehouses in Alabama. The voting concludes today. Since Amazon is the second-largest private employer in the country, the stakes are high…
Economy Mar 18As nationwide unemployment grows, Rhode Island steps in to help residents find work
This week marked the 52nd straight week of high unemployment claims, with numbers rising as more than a million people filed for state and emergency federal unemployment benefits across the country. One state, Rhode Island, is working to reverse that…