For decades, the United States was considered the land of opportunity: a place where hard work resulted in educational opportunities and a job that paid a livable wage, offered opportunities for advancement, and included affordable healthcare.
Today, that vision is being challenged. Rapid technological advancement, shifting economic infrastructure, and stagnant wages — coupled with the structural racism that has crippled opportunities for minority populations — has led to what many are considering a nearly insurmountable wealth and opportunity gap.
While businesses are feeling the pain of full employment, the brunt of these changes are felt by lower-income workers who have seen the cost of basic necessities — food, education, childcare, healthcare, and transportation —increase while their wages increase only incrementally, if at all. What strategies can we use to build the quality of jobs while building the capacity of workers? What programs are proving successful — and what else still needs to be done?