Report by Marcela Escobari, Ian Seyal and Carlos Daboin Contreras: “The U.S. economy faces a mobility crisis. After decades of rising inequality, stagnating wages, and a shrinking middle class, many American workers find it harder and harder to get ahead. COVID-19 accentuated a stark divide, battering a two-tiered labor force with millions of low-wage workers lacking job security and benefits—as the long-term trends of globalization, digitalization, and automation continue to displace jobs and disrupt career paths.
To address this crisis and create an economy that works for everyone, policymakers and business leaders must act boldly and urgently. But the challenge of low mobility is complex and driven by many factors, with significant heterogeneity across regions, sectors, and demographic groups. When diagnostics fail to disentangle the complexity, our standard policy responses—centered on education, reskilling, and other reemployment services to help workers adapt—fall short.
This report offers a new approach to better understand the contours of mobility: Who is falling behind, where, and by how much. Using data on hundreds of thousands of real workers’ occupational transitions, we use network analysis to create a multidimensional map of the labor market, revealing a landscape riddled with mobility gaps and barriers. Workers in low-wage occupations face particular hurdles, and persistent racial and gender disparities hold some workers back more than others.
Even so, many workers travel on pathways to economic mobility. By showing where existing pathways can be expanded and where new ones are needed, this report helps policymakers, community organizations, higher education institutions, and business leaders better understand the challenge of mobility and see where and how to intervene, in order to help more workers move up faster….(More)”.