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 Jan 10Political polarization prompts efforts to bridge the gap through shared experiences
PBS NewsHour spent much of last week trying to examine what still divides our country and the deep polarization that preceded the Jan. 6 riots. Now, Paul Solman looks at multiple efforts to bridge those major political and cultural fissures…
Economy Dec 28Why lumber costs fluctuated drastically during the pandemic, and how it affects inflation
Home prices and rents have gone up this year. That’s in part because of the increase in the cost of lumber. Could the wild swings in the price of wood over the past two years be a sign of inflation…
Economy Dec 03Analyzing the shipping backlog from one of America’s busiest ports
Friday's jobs report offered mixed signals about the state of hiring, but one thing was clear: more people are trying to get back into the labor force. Supply chain issues are one key challenge as companies compete for workers and…
Economy Nov 11Trump-era Opportunity Zones meant to help low-income communities exploited by investors
Former President Donald Trump's 2017 tax plan created Opportunity Zones — a program of tax incentives to encourage investment in low-income communities. But as Paul Solman reports, that program has not necessarily spurred economic growth and jobs in distressed communities…
Education Oct 26Jobs requiring college degrees disqualify most U.S. workers — especially workers of color
It has long been a given that a four-year college degree is a prerequisite for moving up the economic ladder in the U.S. But for others, that requirement is having unintended consequences, including negatively affecting their mental health. Paul Solman…
Economy Oct 08The pandemic pushed millions of U.S. workers to join the ‘Great Resignation.’ Here’s why
The September jobs report shows that the unemployment rate fell to 4.8% and job openings are at a record high with wages increased again last month, as companies tried to attract new employees. But more than 25 million people quit…
Economy Sep 27Why trade jobs are unpopular, and how low-wage workers can get better opportunities
As the American economy recovers from the worst impacts of the pandemic, questions remain about the labor force and the problems that plagued the economy even prior to the start of COVID-19. In the eighth and final installment of our…
Economy Aug 25How apprenticeships can bridge the employment gap for workers without college degrees
Because of the pandemic, millions of lost jobs in the U.S. are not filled yet. While there are reports of labor shortages in many sectors, a large percentage of workers say they are looking for a new job. For some…
Nation Aug 05Remembering Richard Trumka, a giant in the world of labor and unions
Richard Trumka, who was at the helm of the nation's largest labor federation, the AFL-CIO, for more than two decades, died on Thursday. Paul Solman reports, and Robert Reich, former secretary of labor under the Clinton administration, joins Judy Woodruff…
Making Sen$e Aug 04As housing costs boom, how home-buyers in one city search for affordability
As the U.S. grapples with the coronavirus, housing costs are skyrocketing. According to the latest S&P Core Logic Case-Shiller index, home prices were up almost 17 percent over the last year -- and in many places, the jump was worse.