Restore the Promise of Work: Raise the Floor and Build Ladders

In America, we believe that work is the pathway out of poverty. Today, however, it is all too common to work hard and remain poor. The dynamics of low-wage jobs create a cycle of economic instability that is hard to escape. America’s “ladders of opportunity” are too often illusory, contributing to the historic levels of inequality we experience today.

The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program has long explored and promoted strategies to improve the opportunities for low- and moderate-income Americans to succeed in today’s changing economy. Over the past few years, EOP and PHI leaders have advocated for the workforce development field to Raise the Floor and Build Ladders for workers and job seekers, meaning to both improve poor quality jobs and help low-wage workers advance to better jobs. In visiting organizations involved in addressing job quality and economic mobility issues, the importance of engaging organizations beyond workforce development became clear. Restore the Promise of Work reflects this more expansive view of the range of leaders needed to address the challenge of inequality and restore the idea of opportunity and economic mobility.  We hope you find these documents useful, and invite you to share your feedback on this form , or join the conversation on social media with #RaiseTheFloor.  We hope to hear from you.

Learn more about improving job quality, redesigning work and expanding economic opportunity by viewing related discussions in our Working in America and Reinventing Low-Wage Work series.