Last week, Maureen Conway (vice president for policy programs at the Aspen Institute and executive director of the Economic Opportunities Program) joined two panels in Ohio to discuss our changing economy and its effects on the state’s labor force.
The first event, titled “Closing the Gap: Building Opportunity in the Valley,” was presented by the City Club of the Mahoning Valley and featured panelists from the City of Youngstown and Youngstown Area Goodwill Industries, Inc. The Business Journal published a summary of the discussion, including the following five takeaways:
- Many Americans struggle to cover the costs of basic needs, and 40% of households would not be able to to pay a $400 emergency expense.
- Gaps in wages, wealth, and employment persist along lines of race, place, and gender, though they have narrowed slightly in recent years. Beyond the region, “the changing nature of work has hollowed out family-wage jobs across the country.”
- When addressing economic issues, it’s advantageous to cultivate support from multiple employers in an industry, as a sector-wide approach can be more effective than piecemeal actions.
- Employers can help their workers access supportive resources, like public benefits, charities, and childcare subsidies. Conway cited The SOURCE (led by Job Quality Fellow Milinda Ysasi) as an organization that helps companies fill this role.
- “Transportation is one of the largest barriers to stable work,” as many low-wage workers lack access to a car or reliable public transit.
The second event, titled “Help Wanted: Building Opportunity in Today’s Labor Market,” was presented by the City Club of Cleveland and featured panelists from Towards Employment and Growth Opportunity Partners, Inc. A recording of the discussion is included at the top of this page.
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