Promoting maximum employment is part of the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate, and therefore, an integral goal of our community development efforts. In New England, almost one third of our full-time workforce currently earns less than $15 an hour, making it very difficult for those workers to cover the costs of basic needs, let alone fully participate in the local economy. Additionally, despite recent gains in the region’s job supply, significant barriers to accessing those jobs persist for many individuals, especially for minorities, those with lower levels of education, and those who have children.
We envision a labor market where working families and individuals have access to jobs that allow them to meet their basic needs, thrive in the pursuit of economic mobility, and actively contribute to our collective prosperity. To achieve this vision of equitable opportunity for better jobs, we are focusing our research and engagement efforts on understanding how to bring about systemic and sustainable change.
Increasing the Quality of Jobs
Efforts to improve the employment outcomes of low- and moderate-income communities can be grouped into two broad, distinct categories: (i) upgrading the worker, and (ii) upgrading jobs. While both are essential components of a comprehensive approach to addressing employment challenges, the continuing expansion of low-wage, low-skill jobs has led the Boston Fed to focus on strategies to expand employment opportunities by upgrading the work itself. We are exploring four initial strategies through research, conversations with thought leaders, and convenings.
- Informing policy: Which policies raise job quality standards and incentivize the creation of higher-quality jobs? What additional research would be helpful to understand the impact of these policies on low-wage workers, businesses, and the economy in general?
- Engaging businesses: What are the advantages to businesses of investing in front-line workers or providing higher-quality jobs? What challenges do businesses face and are these challenges affected by size, industry, or other factors? What would motivate or incentivize businesses to make changes? How do we engage businesses effectively to improve the quality of the jobs they provide?
- Galvanizing the investment community: How can investors and funders incentivize the creation of higher-quality jobs?
- Contributing to a new public narrative: How can we raise awareness and contribute to a new narrative on why quality jobs matter to our economy?
Supporting Low- and Moderate-Income Parents
In addition to these efforts to improve job quality, the Boston Fed is looking at the changing demographic composition of workers in our region and investigating how increasing numbers of low- and moderate-income parents with young children engage with the labor market. We anticipate several forthcoming publications outlining this emerging issue.