Report Spotlights Strategies for Helping Low-Income Workers Succeed

Posted September 7, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Transportation workers

What inno­v­a­tive strate­gies are help­ing work­ers nav­i­gate today’s chang­ing econ­o­my? And, what can phil­an­thropy learn from them?

These are ques­tions that the Annie E. Casey and Joyce foun­da­tions asked — and answered — in their joint­ly fund­ed report, Tak­ing Action.

The nation’s evolv­ing employ­ment land­scape is giv­ing rise to a widen­ing — wors­en­ing —inequity gap. It’s an econ­o­my that increas­ing­ly favors work­ers with a post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion and has seen a rise in jobs with unpre­dictable hours, low wages and lim­it­ed ben­e­fits. Those already strug­gling to get by — includ­ing black and Lati­no work­ers — are over­rep­re­sent­ed in entry-lev­el jobs and face the high­est hur­dles in the chang­ing economy.

Tak­ing Action exam­ines these dis­par­i­ties and high­lights strate­gies aimed at help­ing low­er-paid work­ers nav­i­gate and excel in the chang­ing world of work.

These real-world exam­ples, explored as 12 case stud­ies, fit into three cat­e­gories: 1) high­er edu­ca­tion and work­force devel­op­ment strate­gies that pre­pare young peo­ple for jobs that pro­vide fam­i­ly-sus­tain­ing wages; 2) respons­es to con­cerns about work­er pow­er and agency in the con­text gig and con­tract work; and 3) state and local poli­cies that address wages, work and a chang­ing eco­nom­ic environment.

In the open­ing pages of the report, Casey’s Alli­son Ger­ber and the Joyce Foundation’s Sameer Gad­ka­ree acknowl­edge the cho­sen case stud­ies fit with­in a big­ger — and more com­pli­cat­ed — socio-eco­nom­ic con­text. The labor mar­ket and edu­ca­tion sys­tems, includ­ing high­er edu­ca­tion, remain beset by severe race- and income-based inequities,” they write. Racial dis­par­i­ties in wealth build­ing also have widened over the past three decades, as have race- and wealth-based gaps in col­lege attainment.”

Yet, Tak­ing Action is a start, say Ger­ber and Gad­ka­ree. It points to efforts already under­way and speaks to the pow­er and incred­i­ble promise of posi­tion­ing low-wage work­ers to suc­ceed — both now and for gen­er­a­tions to come.

Read Tak­ing Action

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