Employment and Jobs

2021 Year in Review – Economic Opportunities Program

December 21, 2021  • Maureen Conway

What a year it’s been. On behalf of the Economic Opportunities Program at the Aspen Institute, I want to thank you for your partnership through the continued challenges and upheavals of 2021. Reflecting on our efforts this year, I’m grateful for and proud of the conversations, ideas, and outcomes the EOP team has advanced – and optimistic about the opportunities ahead.

In our work with our Fellows and workforce partners this year, we called for US recovery efforts to center job quality. We made the case for why policymakers, funders, and investors who care about racial and gender wealth equity should support employee share ownership, while also expanding knowledge of the practices and products needed to increase lending to entrepreneurs of color. And we developed tools to help workforce leaders learn about worker experiences and listen to their ideas to help employees and businesses thrive.

We called attention — often — to the shortage of quality jobs and the choices we can all make to improve them, and we learned how the pandemic and heightened attention on racial inequities have influenced companies’ employment plans. We highlighted the inadequacies of the systems and policies to support the US care economy despite increasing demand for care. We shared a roadmap for a renewed work-related safety net.

We did a lot of other things, too … all in service to expanding opportunities for America’s working people to earn a living and live with dignity. EOP will continue to build on these efforts by continuing to address the job quality crisis and brighten the prospects of business ownership.

A few things we are looking forward to in 2022:

  • Deepening our understanding of gig workers’ needs and studying digital skills and the Latino workforce
  • Welcoming the next class of Job Quality Fellows, who will work at the intersection of workforce development and worker organizing/worker rights advocacy to improve the quality of jobs
  • Expanding our Job Quality Center of Excellence and continuing the social media conversations around the urgent need for better quality jobs
  • Building capacity of community microlenders to support small business owners who have faced barriers accessing credit
  • Hosting the Good Jobs Champions group to advance job quality and equity frameworks in partnership with the Families and Workers Fund.

In addition to our appreciation, we at EOP extend our sincere wishes for a peaceful, rejuvenating holiday and we look forward to renewed commitment to our crucial work together in the coming year.


2021 was a busy year for the @AspenInstitute Economic Opportunities Program, all in service to expanding opportunities for workers to earn a living and live with dignity. Read more from @AspenWorkforce, @Aspen_BOI, @upskillamerica, and @AspenFutureWork.

In 2021, the @AspenInstitute Economic Opportunities Program called for recovery efforts to center #jobquality, made the case for racial/gender #equity through #employeeownership, built tools for #wkdev leaders help workers and businesses thrive, and more.

In 2021, @AspenInstitute EOP called attention to the shortage of #qualityjobs, studied how the pandemic has influenced business decisions, highlighted the inadequacies of the care economy, and shared a road map for a renewed work-related safety net.

In 2022, @AspenInstitute EOP will deepen understanding of #gigwork, #digitalskills, and the Latino workforce; double down on #JobQuality efforts; build the capacity of microlenders to support #smallbiz owners; and host the new #GoodJobs Champions group.

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The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.

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