Family Finances

The Complete Financial Lives of Workers: A Holistic Exploration of Work and Public and Workplace Benefit Arrangements

March 28, 2021  • Sheida Isabel Elmi & Financial Security Program

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Nearly half of the workforce earns wages that cannot cover a family’s basic needs. Over the past four decades, we’ve seen wages stagnate for low- and middle-wage earners – particularly Latinx and Black workers, increasing the racial wage gap. While it is clear that employment alone does not ensure financial security today, workers’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic show the potential for truly inclusive benefits, payments, and financial systems to be enormously powerful foundations of economic stability, resilience, and security for households and the nation.

If work is to provide a real pathway to financial security, public and workplace benefits need to reflect the realities of 21st century employment, which includes a workforce increasingly required to engage in nonstandard and sometimes multiple jobs and where job stability is not guaranteed.

Download “The Complete Financial Lives of Workers: A Holistic Exploration of Work and Public and Workplace Benefit Arrangements” today to learn:

  • Four conditions of work and benefits that allow LMI workers to thrive – informed by front-line insights from Aspen’s Consumer Insights Collaborative
  • A new matrix to unpack and highlight the major connections between work and benefit arrangements and workers’ prospects for financial security
  • Five key recommendations to build a benefits system that meets the needs of all workers and addresses the inequities observed in the current labor market and benefits systems
Key Findings

Related Event

Join the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program and WorkRise on April 28 for an exploration of our research and a conversation about building better on-ramps to financial security and economic mobility. Register Here.


This paper was developed as part of the Global Inclusive Growth Partnership, a collaboration between the Aspen Institute and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. It was also developed with generous support from JPMorgan Chase & Co., The Prudential Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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What does a complete look at the financial lives of workers reveal? NEW Report from #AspenCIC via @AspenFSP illustrates how work arrangements and benefits together determine if workers will have a reasonable shot at financial security.