Employment and Jobs

Building Back Better: A Jobs-Centered Infrastructure Plan

April 27, 2021  • Carl Van Horn & Mary Alice McCarthy

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently projected record-breaking growth in 2021, but in the same document, it also made an alarming prediction: The U.S. labor market will not fully recover until 2024. High unemployment and labor force dropout rates could persist and spawn a repeat of the “lost decade” and unequal recovery that followed the Great Recession. Workers suffering the greatest economic harm in the current crisis include people of color, low-wage earners in the service sector, women, and individuals with lower education levels

Avoiding another jobless recovery that leaves millions of Americans unemployed must be a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. The federal government must take action to avoid repeating the tragic experiences of the Great Recession era, when millions of people remained jobless for years, defaulted on loans, lost their homes, and fell into poverty. This report offers a set of recommendations for using job-generating infrastructure spending to advance President Biden’s plan for a more equitable and inclusive economy.

Read the Report


About the BETS Taskforce

The Better Employment and Training Strategies Taskforce (BETS) is a coalition of more than 40 leading practitioners and experts working to modernize the United States’ outdated patchwork of workforce policies. The five BETS workgroups were convened in November 2020 to develop recommendations aimed at informing the incoming Biden-Harris administration and the 117th Congress on issues and policy options related to unemployment insurance, workforce development, job quality, youth employment, and federal jobs initiatives. The BETS Taskforce was convened by Prof. Stephen Crawford of the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, Stuart Andreason of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and Larry Good of Corporation for a Skilled Workforce.

The above document was authored by the co-chairs of the BETS federal jobs strategy workgroup: Carl Van Horn of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University and Mary Alice McCarthy of the Center on Education & Labor at New America (CELNA). Their workgroup’s final report, which provided additional recommendations fora federal jobs strategy, is available here.

The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program is proud to participate in BETS. Click here to learn more.


BETS Reports