Economic Security Summit

For the first time in 2016, two of the Institute’s policy programs—the Financial Security Program (FSP) and the Economic Opportunities Program (EOP)—have joined forces to craft a vibrant summit that probes how labor and financial markets intersect, and how changes in both have left families more vulnerable.

Many economic thinkers have long recognized that the challenges of work and wealth are intertwined. To succeed in today’s economy, Americans need a safe, high-quality job that delivers a regular and predictable income and a reasonable suite of benefits, as well as access to financial tools that facilitate investment, savings, and ownership. But the link between work and wealth—once thought to be an inevitable transmission—has frayed badly in recent years. Across America, the middle class is shrinking. Traditional pathways to financial stability, such as college, homeownership, good jobs, and retirement savings, are blocked by student debt, foreclosures, and dramatic changes in the way we work. And when workers struggle at work, there are also repercussions for business, which on the one hand reports increasing dissatisfaction with the availability of capable people to work in their companies and on the other wonders where demand for their products and services will come from in an era of stagnant incomes. In short, this economic moment presents challenges for workers, business, families, and communities. We see the result of this financial insecurity in the volatile—and, at times, ugly—politics of this election year.

Given the intersectionality of these immense challenges, leaders can no longer be content to focus on partial solutions or explore ideas in siloed discussions. In response, FSP and EOP have crafted a crosssector, inter-disciplinary dialogue to help business executives, government officials, research scholars, consumer advocates, and national journalists grapple together with the multiple dimensions of Americans’ financial insecurity. By weaving together economics and values, business and finance, culture and policy, the Summit seeks to stimulate a dynamic discussion between thought-leaders from different sectors and political vantage points who are invested in finding workable solutions.

The summit is supported by Prudential and the Ford Foundation.