past event
Workforce Development

Building Ladders and Raising the Floor: Improving Employment and Economic Opportunities for Frontline Workers

Audio (MP3)

To download, click here.

A good job has long been the foundation for both financial stability and economic mobility. However, labor markets are changing. Of the 30 occupations expected to have the largest growth in the next decade, 23 will require a high school diploma or less. In addition to lower wages, these jobs, in industries such as home healthcare, retail sales, food preparation and service, often have irregular hours, limited benefits and limited opportunities for advancement.

These jobs are found all across the country, which is why we took the Working in America series on the road to the Midwest. We partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City to host a luncheon forum to explore strategies for improving the quality of lower wage workers’ jobs in addition to creating opportunities for career advancement. Panelists discussed the importance and advantages, to both workers and employers, of shifting our employment and workforce strategies to focus on “building ladders and raising the floor.”

This discussion explores a diversity of perspectives from across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.



Enjoy a selection of video clips from this event.


Featured Speakers

Lisa Falcone
Director, Working Bridges Project, United Way of Northwest Vermont

Adrienne Smith
Chief Executive Officer, New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition @NMCaregivers

Walter Smith
Vice President, Human Resources, QuikTrip @QuikTrip



Jon Willis
Vice president and economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City @KansasCityFed


This event is part of the Working in America series, an ongoing discussion series hosted by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program that highlights an array of critical issues affecting low- and moderate-income workers in the United States and ideas for improving and expanding economic opportunities for working people. For more information, visit




Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #talkgoodjobs.

Event information
Tue Oct 25, 2016
1:00pm - 2:30pm GMT+0000
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
1 Memorial Drive
Kansas City, MO 64198