Economic Strategy for Higher Wages and Expanded Labor Participation

In this chapter, authors Jason Furman and Phillip Swagel propose two alternative policy options for promoting increased earnings and employment of low-income households: expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) among childless workers, and implementing a wage subsidy for low-income workers that would be administered through employers.

Restoring Economic Opportunity for “The People Left Behind”: Employment Strategies for Rural America

In order to stimulate employment in rural areas, author James P. Ziliak proposes a two-fold strategy of bringing “people to jobs” and “jobs to people,” an approach that combines people-based and place-based policies. The people-based policies include relocation assistance payments for those willing to make a permanent move to a new job, as well as a short- term credit for commuting expenses tied to a new job without residential relocation.

Introduction: The Need to Expand Economic Opportunity

The pursuit of economic opportunity for all Americans is as important to the health of the country’s economy as it is to the strength of its democracy. The promise that hard work and determination will yield economic success is a central American ideal, but it has been called into question as secular economic forces and institutional changes have reshaped the American economy and had an uneven impact on Americans’ ability to prosper.

A Policy Agenda to Develop Human Capital for the Modern Economy

This proposal recognizes the simultaneous need for more college educated workers and also for a higher level of labor market skill among non-college educated individuals. The authors propose to invest in the upskilling of the American workplace by better leveraging the potential of the community college sector.

The Higher Wages Tax Credit

In this chapter, author David Neumark proposes a Higher Wages Tax Credit (HWTC) to partially offset the costs imposed by minimum wage increases on firms that employ low-skilled labor. Following a minimum wage increase, the HWTC would provide a tax credit of 50% of the difference between the prior minimum wage and the new minimum wage, for each hour of labor employed; the credit would phase out at wages higher than the minimum wage, and as wage inflation erodes the real cost of higher nominal minimum wages.

The Challenges of Leveraging Online Education for Economically Vulnerable Mid-Career Americans

This chapter lays out some of the central questions policymakers should ask when considering plans to leverage online education for economically vulnerable mid-career Americans, as well as the state of the evidence surrounding those questions. In short, existing research provides little clear evidence of successful models of online education for academically weaker students, suggesting that policymakers should proceed with caution.

A Policymaker’s Guide to Labor Force Participation

This chapter aims to provide policy makers with a useful framework for thinking about the question: “Why are so many people deciding that seeking work isn’t worth it?” After reviewing relevant facts and trends about labor force participation in the United States, we consider plausible explanations for the causes of decline.

Policies to Reintegrate Former Inmates Into the Labor Force

Incarceration rates in the United States have more than tripled in recent decades as rehabilitation has gradually taken a back seat to a policy agenda emphasizing punishment and incapacitation. This raises important questions about the effectiveness of state and federal prisons in the United States, and about whether the resources required for long prison sentences would be better spent improving prison conditions and expanding rehabilitation programs.