Appelbaum is an economist who has published widely on a variety of topics involving labor and employment. A major focus of her research is on implications of company practices for organizational effectiveness and employee outcomes. She has studied the adoption of workplace practices that increased worker participation in shop floor decisions as well as employers’ efforts to limit opportunity in the workplace and expand low wage jobs. She is currently engaged (with Ruth Milkman) in studying the effects of paid family leave in California on firms and workers. A second strand of current research (with Rosemary Batt) examines the effects of private equity ownership on managerial decision making, firm competitiveness and employment relations. She has engaged in policy debates on these topics, testified before the New Jersey state legislature and the U.S. Congress, and has been interviewed in major media outlets. Some of her areas of expertise include private equity, financialization, workers and communities, healthcare restructuring and its implications for workers, and economic security.