What Next: TBD

Why the Feds Want to Kill Noncompetes

How the proliferation of noncompete clauses hurts workers and costs the economy billions.


Episode Notes

You might think of noncompete agreements as mostly limited to highly skilled, highly paid tech workers to protect trade secrets. But one-third of workers bound by noncompetes make $13/hour or less: fast-food workers, security guards, and the like.

Noncompete clauses not only give employers leverage over their employees—both during and after their employment—but studies have shown the agreements are a weight on the economy, which is why the FTC is angling for a federal ban.

Guest: Elizabeth Wilkins, director of the Office of Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission

Host: Lizzie O’Leary

If you enjoy this show, please consider signing up for Slate Plus. Slate Plus members get benefits like zero ads on any Slate podcast, bonus episodes of shows like Slow Burn and Dear Prudence—and you’ll be supporting the work we do here on What Next TBD. Sign up now at slate.com/whatnextplus to help support our work.

Podcast production by Evan Campbell


About the Show

Every Friday and Sunday, Slate’s popular daily news podcast What Next brings you TBD, a clear-eyed look into the future. From fake news to fake meat, algorithms to augmented reality, Lizzie O’Leary is your guide to the tech industry and the world it’s creating for us to live in.

All episodes


  • Lizzie O’Leary is the host of What Next: TBD, Slate’s show about technology, power, and the future. Previously, she created and hosted Marketplace Weekend. She has reported for CNN, Bloomberg News, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She is also a contributing writer at the Atlantic.