Right now, the United States is experiencing a period of unprecedented social upheaval and a racial reckoning - partially caused by the coronavirus pandemic - that is forcing us to confront vulnerabilities in the economic system. The economic chaos created by the pandemic illuminated the deep economic and occupational inequities that have persisted for decades, resulting in a hollowed-out middle class and an insurmountable chasm between wealth and poverty.
In the workplace, racial bias affects negotiations over starting pay, future wages, and upward mobility. Employees of color start off making less money and receive less promotions than their white colleagues, a disparity that compounds over time. White workers are about 50 percent more likely than workers of color to hold "good" jobs, and much less likely to be displaced from their jobs by automation. Eliminating these racial inequities in income could boost the U.S. economy by $2.3 trillion a year.
The only way to provide economic security for all Americans is to dismantle systemic racism in all our economic structures, including the workplace. A recent report from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions found that, while these problems are national in scope, the solutions need to be local. How are the root causes of racial inequities in the workforce being addressed? What efforts are underway locally to advance workforce equity? Are they working? And how much impact can they have if the other inequities in American society - in housing, transportation, childcare, and education - aren't also addressed and eliminated?
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