US Economy

Reconnecting Work and Wealth: A Report from the 2017 Aspen Institute Economic Security Summit

June 15, 2018  • Karen Kahn , Financial Security Program & Economic Opportunities Program

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In 2017, building off a successful Summit in 2016, two of the Aspen Institute’s policy programs — the Financial Security Program (FSP) and the Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) — re-joined forces to craft a vibrant conversation exploring the critical changes of past decades that have re-shaped both labor and financial markets. The result was the second annual Economic Security Summit , which took place in July 2017 in Aspen, Colorado. With a specific focus — Reconnecting Work and Wealth: Constructing a New American Middle Class — the Summit provided an opportunity for leaders from industry, academia, philanthropy, government, and nonprofit organizations to grapple with challenges that undergird growing levels of financial insecurity and income and wealth inequality in America. Participants found common ground, made connections, and explored new solutions to these pressing issues through an intense and expansive dialogue that unfolded over two and a half days. The convening resulted more than simply bringing together critical players; it has served as catalyst for change.

By weaving together economics and values, business and finance, culture and policy, the Summit stimulated a dynamic discussion between thought leaders, from different sectors and political vantage points, who are invested in finding workable solutions to America’s economic security crisis. Out of this year’s Summit, we have witnessed the creation of unique partnerships. Our nonprofit partners have found innovative ways to work with industry to pilot new initiatives focused on bringing more financial security to American workers. Our funders and corporate leaders have developed strategies and working groups to look at these issues across silos, forming a plan to address issues at the intersection of work and wealth. The Aspen Institute recommitted to this work by continuing to elevate the important efforts of these partners, highlighting their work, convening leaders, and supporting their initiatives. In fact, participant contributions from this Summit have been essential in shaping the programing of the Institute’s Reconnecting Work and Wealth Initiative. This report incorporates these insights and provides an outline for future policy dialogue and directions.