Ask Us Anything: The Cost of Inequality in the Labor Market - July 14, 2021
This Q&A Digest has been derived from the Ask Us Anything session on "The Cost of Inequality in the Labor Market" held on July 14, 2021, with Kathyrn Edwards, economist for the RAND Corporation; Clair Minson, founder and principal consultant at Sandra Grace LLC; and William M. Rodgers III, vice president and director of the Institute for Economic Equity at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
- Discrimination makes our economy smaller. Our economic success is measured by the success of the people within it—including both how much they're working and how much they're earning. Wage discrimination makes our economy smaller; lower labor force participation makes our economy smaller. These factors limit workers from being able to contribute their full potential and thus keeps the economy from reaching maximum employment.
- Statistics help reveal problems and solutions. Disaggregating employment data by race can equip leaders and policymakers to have more intentional conversations with their employer partners.
- Building a dialogue around equitable growth is an important element of the process. The social unrest of last summer has opened a space for greater dialogue on equity, even within the labor market. Creating a mind-shift change will encourage companies to try new methods and practices. Focusing on and understanding the incentives for change—sometimes a business case—and showing how taking a different path can create more desirable outcomes. It is time to capture the energy of workers and employers to create a more equitable system.
The Atlanta Fed's Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity offers a number of data tools and publications to help you track unemployment, reemployment, and other potential policy and practice suggestions while you manage recovery from the pandemic.
Federal Reserve Bank
A Moral and Economic Imperative to End Racism is an essay by Raphael Bostic, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Opportunity Occupations Monitor tracks trends in jobs that offer salaries of at least the U.S. annual median wage (adjusted for local cost of living differences) for which employers do not require a bachelor's degree—opportunity occupations—in states and metro areas.
Rework Community Insights Monitor offers information on jobs and training at the local level.
Workforce Currents includes articles on various workforce topics addressing research, policy, and practice.
Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity Events describes upcoming events and includes registration links for Ask Us Anything webinar sessions.
Resources from our Panelists:
The Workforce Development Field or a Conduit for Maintaining Systemic Racism?
Black-White Wage Gaps Expand with Rising Wage Inequality
A New Approach to Measuring Income Inequality Over Recent Decades
GDP, Labor Force Participation and Economic Growth
The Bias of ‘Professionalism' Standards
Kathryn Edwards, Economist, RAND Corporation
Edwards is an economist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Her research spans diverse areas of public policy, including unemployment insurance; the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education pipeline and labor market; women's labor supply; the challenges in retirement facing older Americans; and labor market issues for workers without a college degree. She has worked on projects for the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program, recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, and research grants funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Aging.
Edwards completed her PhD in economics at the University of Wisconsin, where she was a graduate fellow of the Institute for Research on Poverty and a summer fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Clair Minson, Founder and Principal Consultant, Sandra Grace LLC
Minson is an experienced nonprofit professional with a decade of experience in workforce development and mental health counseling. She is the founder and principal consultant at Sandra Grace LLC, a change management firm that provides training, consulting, and thought partnership to organizations seeking to embed racial equity practices in their work.
Her professional highlights include the launch of a sector-based training program for the maritime, transportation, distribution, and logistics (TDL) industry, creation of an industry advisory council that includes employers from the TDL industry in Maryland, and development of the "10 Essential Questions for Workforce Development," a brochure focusing on the application of a racial equity lens for workforce development programming. She also wrote "10 Essential Questions for Employers, Business Owners, HR Professionals, and Hiring Managers" and has worked on other initiatives focusing on documenting and bringing about racial equity.
William M. Rodgers III, Vice President and Director, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Institute for Economic Equity
Rodgers is the vice president and inaugural director of the Institute for Economic Equity at the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis. Previously, Rodgers was a professor and chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He is also a senior research affiliate of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan. Previously, he served as chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. Rodgers was also the Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings Professor of Economics at the College of William and Mary.
His research examines issues in labor economics and social problems. Recently, he and coauthor Richard Freeman of Harvard University published a series of articles titled "Jobless Recovery: Whatever Happened to the Great American Jobs Machine?" Rodgers has also published articles in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, the Review of Black Political Economy, and Family Economics and Nutrition Review.
Event Q & A
What can workforce stakeholders do to influence policies that encourage employers to take big steps to achieve equity?
Workforce development organizations have the hard task of educating employers and meeting them where they are in their journey but also need to uplift worker voices and stand up for equitable practices. Employers of all types are in different stages of this fairness journey; workforce practitioners can acknowledge and encourage steps toward equity at every stage. Workforce practitioners can show the business case, or the return on investment (ROI) in equity, to hesitant employers to help bring them on board. Employers that lead the way in equitable practices can serve as examples for those just beginning on this path.
Some employers are slower to see the positive outcomes. Workforce practitioners must sometimes make hard decisions on what investments to make with employers that fail to adopt equitable practices or to offer quality employment. Supplying talent pipelines to employers who have made changes to their policies to better support their employees can trigger these other employers to follow suit and to model behaviors, so they, too, can better recruit and retain new workers. Employer commitment to fair practices strengthens workers’ voices and supports their ability to thrive in the workplace and reach quality employment with livable wages.
What can employers do to make jobs that are not currently considered an “opportunity job” or a career pathway more promising?
There are many ways to improve access to jobs and expand the talent pool for employers. Using skills-based hiring practices, or practices based on a worker’s life experiences rather than solely on credentials, can shift a company’s mindset in identifying, recruiting, and securing talent. Skills-based hiring can include removing degree requirements when they are not necessary for job tasks, changing language to make it clear that jobs are open to all demographic groups, and training hiring managers and recruiters to use experience-based questions that can help remove bias from the interview process.
Outside of hiring practices, employers can look at how they support workers once they are hired. While some employee benefits or employer investments need to be specific to support the needs of a targeted population, they may not always have the desired outcome. For instance, many companies offer maternity leave to new mothers but not to fathers or adoptive parents. While the policy to support new mothers can positively affect child development, it can also set mothers back in their career. For instance, NBER research shows that new mothers who use paid maternity leave wind up with annual wages that are 8 percent lower six to 10 years after the birth of their child. In this case, providing parents of all genders with the same leave would level the playing field and allow all workers the benefit of connecting with their children without the cost of slower career growth.
How do we include competency assessment as a tool to narrow the skills gap for aspiring employees of color?
Skills-based hiring can help people of color spotlight experiences that could place them in jobs that previously were difficult to attain because of required credentials or educational barriers. The Rework America Alliance is focusing on reimagining hiring and job coaching to uplift worker skills, experience, and career goals. The skills-based Resume Builder helps workers create a compelling resume that emphasizes qualifications that are in demand. Employers can promote skills-based practices by using the Job Posting Generator that helps companies identify the necessary skills a successful candidate offers. As the job market focuses increasingly on skill sets, system collaboration and feedback are necessary to maximize long-term matches between workers and employers.
How can state and local governments be catalysts for change in creating equity for their citizens?
State and local governments can help cultivate innovation and change. At the state level, legislation is often enacted faster than at the federal level. When policies are successful at the state level, the evidence could support movement on the issue nationally. For instance, minimum wage laws that help provide a living wage to workers have a federal floor, which has been $7.25 an hour since 2009. As of July 2021, 29 states have a higher minimum wage than the federal level. According to the National Employment Law Project, 74 jurisdictions (including states, cities, and counties) will raise their minimum wage in 2021, the highest number of minimum wage increases since 2012.
Jurisdictions can also change data collection and reporting policies. These regulations could be tied to public funding to ensure the locality is measuring progress toward its equity goals. Suggested metrics to disaggregate by demographics include data on wages, promotions, and worker retention.
How can the workforce system focus on investing in sectors and occupations that improve economic mobility for job seekers, even if that placement takes more time and results in lower achievement of current program or placement metrics?
Placing workers quickly can help an economy recover from downturns and improve jobholders’ short-term financial challenges. However, placement into low-wage, limited-mobility jobs that are in high demand does not promote economic growth in the same way that longer-term career pathways do. Thinking about career longevity can help direct investments to where gaps or cliffs exist along a career pathway. Funders should focus on local needs that will not only meet requirements of employers at the moment but also will help a community revitalize and improve circumstances for future job seekers. Providing flexible funding to local agencies who know their economies and clients is one way to achieve long-term results.
Creating partnerships with employers and training providers to subsidize or underwrite the cost of continued learning and incentivize upward mobility within a career pathway can help workers realize skill gains that they might not be able to attain on their own. While there are traditional job paths, it is important to consider a worker’s experience and skills. Tools such as the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Occupational Mobility Explorer can help determine skill overlaps between current and aspirational roles. Other measures, such as the Rework America Alliance’s Job Progression Tool, can show pathways to higher-earning positions.
How can public workforce policies be more intentional about dismantling occupational segregation?
Data collection is an important avenue to improving longstanding labor market challenges such as occupational segregation. According to the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, occupational segregation happens when a demographic group (race or gender, for example) is overrepresented or underrepresented within a job or sector. Workforce boards and providers can use reporting requirements to ensure that occupational segregation is improving within an industry rather than widening. Furthermore, the workforce system can require companies to take steps to reduce occupational segregation to receive full funding for programs.
Within the workforce system, professional development to minimize bias of job coaches can help reduce occupational segregation. Training job coaches to envision unique career paths that fit a client’s needs and desires is important. In some instances, job seekers are not aware of the types of positions available to them, but coaches can educate and prepare workers for new careers.
Racism and economic equity have been politicized. What can researchers do to provide information that appeals to audiences who have preconceived notions about public support for the workforce system?
Research strengthens conversations about progress in many ways. The collection and analysis of data from businesses and workers reveal population disparities. However, full knowledge of disparities cannot be realized without disaggregated information, or data that has been broken down by race (and other categories). For instance, the July 2021 headline unemployment rate was 5.4 percent (seasonally adjusted). However, unemployment rates drastically differed by race. The White and Asian unemployment rates in July 2021 were 4.8 and 5.3 percent respectively, while Black workers experienced a 8.2 percent rate of unemployment. Collecting and analyzing disaggregated data is a critical step to understanding challenges faced by different populations, including wage gaps discussed in the Economic Policy Institute report Black-White Wage Gaps Expand With Rising Wage Inequality. Disaggregated data also expand the evidence base, which can help facilitate conversations centered on facts.
The pandemic has reinforced the importance of educational attainment for job stability. What tools or policies support improved access to learning for adults?
Basic education such as literacy or digital skills is crucial to success in a career pathway. The pandemic caused many workforce training and education programs to move online. Some adults do not have access to the necessary tools to take part in these trainings. Workforce intermediaries have had success implementing Wi-Fi hot spots, assigning laptops to students and job seekers, and increasing one-on-one time with clients to help update their skills. Grants can also be restructured to meet these new needs as in-person learning remains reduced.
Community colleges provide affordable training to adults who want to supplement or complete their previous education. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, the majority of students attend school part-time with the option to earn formal credit or audit courses. Connecting students to such resources can be a vital step to achieving financial stability. Tools such as the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Rework Community Insights Monitor provide regional training options to help job seekers move into new positions.
What impact has fissuring, or more specifically contracting out of many low-wage jobs, had on job quality and economic mobility?
A fissured workplace happens when a company uses contractors or other third parties to fill jobs, which has increased since the 1980s. While fissuring can happen at all levels of an organization, it can present exaggerated challenges for low-wage workers. Two major concerns with job quality are eligibility to company benefits and wages and the ability to network and create a pathway through a corporation. Smaller firms competing for contracts at large corporations may not have the resources to provide a comprehensive benefit package and provide the lowest cost labor that will win the contract. Without flexibility, low-wage workers may struggle with medical expenses or work schedules, two important components of a high-quality job. Additionally, contracted workers do not benefit from the same corporate structure and are not promoted through the contracting company’s process, which limits their ability to move up the corporate ladder.
On a macro level, contracting low-wage positions has had an impact on income inequality. Since 1980, the Gini Index (a measure of income equality where 0 indicates perfect equality and 1 represents perfect inequality) increased 23.8 percent through 2014. Consequently, firms began using outsourcing to reduce the number of low-wage jobs they created in-house because it was cheaper to fill those positions through contractors. Recent research suggests that at least 20 percent of wage inequality increases are due to low-wage positions moving to smaller firms rather than remaining with the large firm.
Stuart Andreason: Why don't we go ahead and get started. I want to welcome everyone for joining today. Thanks for coming back for another one of the Atlanta Fed Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity's Ask Us Anything. Just, so for those of you that don't know, I'm Stuart Andreason. I'm the director at the Center, and the Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity at the Atlanta Fed is focused on creating economic opportunity for low- and moderate-income workers. You've heard us say over the last nearly year and a half that the pandemic has brought to bear many of the challenges that we've expected in today's labor market. Lower-paid workers, less safe jobs were essential; these workers were particularly vulnerable to both job loss and the illness.
The modern economy and the future of work has meant that we've seen changes happen much more rapidly given the pandemic; many of the things that we thought might have taken years to arrive have already arrived. But looking back over the last year and a half, we'd really be remiss if we didn't mention that there was another split in terms of vulnerability to the recession in the pandemic, and that split is along racial lines. Black workers and other workers of color have felt greater job loss. Women experienced a significant drop in labor force participation, nearly two percentage points, and a drop in employment-to-population ratio [of] nearly three percentage points since February of 2020.
Today, Black or African American unemployment is 9.2 percent, compared to 5.2 percent unemployment for White workers. They've dealt with greater disruptions. It ties back to decades and really longer of challenges brought on by unequal and often racist and sexist policies that have put Black, indigenous and other people of color and women at a disadvantage in the labor market.
For example, the Social Security Act excluded domestic workers and agricultural workers, jobs that were disproportionately held by women and workers of color, from eligibility for unemployment insurance. Now, while some might debate whether the design was intentionally racially biased, it's clear the impact in the form of greater financial instability and all of the associated consequences that come for workers that are not covered by that. Now, no matter the origin of the disparities, they have costs. And I want to highlight that there's a new Federal Reserve System tool that explores what these disparities cost local communities and the economy as a whole. I encourage you to visit Fedcommunities.org to see that tool and explore what the costs of disparity might be in your community.
Now I want to talk just a little bit about our charge as an institution; it's to promote maximum employment and price stability. Our center is charged specifically to look at how employment, education and workforce development create economic opportunity and where there are challenges. Disparities in the labor market and unequal opportunity for women, workers of color, and other disadvantaged workers mean that we aren't getting workers to their highest level of productivity, and that holds back the economy and employment. It's our job to understand and look at solutions. We might not be responsible for enacting the solutions, but we are as a research institution responsible for researching the challenges, researching, unpacking and understanding potential responses, and convening discussions and bringing together groups that can act on these challenges. That's what we're hoping to do today. We want to encourage rich discussions with a diversity of viewpoints and ideas on challenges that the economy faces. We also learn so much from engaging in these conversations. Data tells us part of the story; on the ground experiences tell us part of the story, and we get a richer understanding of the labor market and how to create economic opportunity by looking at a wide range of experiences and information.
The discussion today shouldn't be seen as the perspective of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, or the Federal Reserve System. The views are those of the speakers; we do hope that they enrich your thinking and conversation about the challenges and practical solutions to advancing economic mobility and resilience. With that, I'm excited to introduce our speakers today. We're joined by three national experts. I'm going to introduce them in the order that they'll speak. Kathryn Edwards, an economist at RAND Corporation, who's looked at disparities and challenges in the labor market. Bill Rodgers, who is now vice president and director of the Institute for Economic Equity at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. I will say that we're proud that Bill was a visiting scholar at the Atlanta Fed when he was chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University and a professor of public policy. And current visiting scholar, Clair Minson, who's the founder and principal consultant of Sandra Grace, LLC. She has a long history of working in workforce development as well as in philanthropies that have engaged in workforce development related work.
The three of them are going to open with some comments, and like always, I want to remind you that this is called Ask Us Anything, and it's a conversation. Please be thinking about questions that you have for us and for our speakers. And after their conversations, you all lead the discussion. We'll work on answering the questions that you have, talking about questions that you have, and then we'll respond. After this webinar, we collect all the information that we get. There are some questions we won't be able to get to, but we will work to get answers to everything that we hear from today. So with that, I'm excited to turn it over to Kathryn and to our speakers. Welcome, and thanks for joining us today.
Kathryn Edwards: Thank you so much for having me. As Stuart said, my name is Kathryn Edwards, and I'm a labor economist at the RAND Corporation. And I wanted to start today's discussion with an overview of what we mean by the cost of inequality in our economy. So, I'm sure as most of you know, the economy is not a nebulous concept; it doesn't mean different things to different people. It is the final value of goods and services as measured by gross domestic product. Over time, one of the most consistent predictors of GDP is the number of people working in the economy, which is to say that the per worker GDP in the United States has been remarkably consistent over time, which is not the same thing as per capita.
So the question for economic growth and an issue of economic policy is, do we have the most number of people working as possible? And is that number malleable to policy, and to what extent is it malleable to policy? So there are certain cases in which something is going to drag on labor force participation that we have very limited ability to change. So an example would be that between 1946 and 1964, there was a period of elevated birth rates, the children of which were dubbed the baby boomers. They are a relatively large generation, and they're now hitting their retirement age. These are a lot of people who are going to stop working and draw down on our labor force participation rate. But there's not that much we could do about it in terms of policy on a large scale, because there's just not a lot of work that an 80-year-old could do or want to do. But there are areas of labor force and workers in our economy in which that is subject to policy, but we have not necessarily enacted on them.
And one thing that has come up frequently in this past pandemic has been women's labor force participation as Stuart mentioned. The United States used to be a leader in women's labor force participation, but over the past 30 years, we've started to fall relative to our peer industrialized countries. And from 1950 to 2000, women's labor force participation in the United States doubled from around 32 percent to around 60 percent. But unfortunately, since then, we've been stagnated at that level for about 20 years. Now, many researchers and economists would say that this is at least in part attributed to the fact that the United States is singular among industrialized countries in not having paid sick days, paid family leave, affordable and accessible childcare, and affordable and accessible after-school programs. And that women's labor force participation is inversely related to how much care they are expected to provide on their own and how much work accommodates it.
I bring up this example of women because I think it's a conversation about economic investments and economic policy that is a little less personal and emotional. It stirs slightly different feelings among people if you say, "We might, and research would suggest, have more workers, and therefore a larger economy if we invested in the labor force participation of women by pursuing these policies related to care and leave." But the other inequality in our labor market that relates to, say past social statuses and current social status, is the difference between Black and White in terms of labor force participation. And here the conversation can get very personal very quickly, as it almost seems to invite people's view of how they think they act in the economy in terms of whether or not the U.S. has room to say correct or invest in the labor force participation of Black workers. Because that invites a discussion that looks at what prevents Black workers from participating to the extent as White workers, and this comes down to institutional racism, structural racism, barriers that have been handed down from generations, and that conversation is more sensitive and is more heated, but it still has a relevance to our economic policy.
Are there people who could work but can't? Are there people whose work is limited because of a factor outside of their control that is malleable to policy? When we think about the cost of inequality in our economy, in one way we're asking is there a way to reduce that cost, and are we willing to do it? This is particularly relevant to the difference between Black and White workers, and so I will leave it and hand it off to Bill and Clair to discuss those types of barriers, how we measure them, and to what extent we think they have consequences in our labor market. But suffice it to say, from a broader point of view, this is not a costless endeavor to let certain structures and let certain disparities persist.
Bill Rodgers: Good afternoon, for those who are here on the East Coast, and still, I guess, good morning, for our friends out west. My name is Bill Rodgers, and as Stuart said, I used to be at Rutgers University in the Bloustein School of Public Policy … but recently as of Monday, so that's two days ago, I began my service as the director of the Institute for Economic Equity at the St. Louis Federal Reserve. And so this is my first time that I have to say that, all opinions and views are my own, and they do not represent the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis nor the broader Federal Reserve System. My task was to lay out, to sum up the picture in terms of inequality, as it as exists by race and gender. It's very important to me also in this work to perform the intersectionality of race and gender with the experiences of Black women, … also very unique to Black men and vice versa.
So just a few summary points on racial inequality, earnings inequality, economic inequality in the United States. Today, large and persistent differences in employment and earnings do remain. For example, like Stuart mentioned, you mentioned the unemployment rates, that the Black employment rate is just under 10 percent, compared to about 5 percent for Whites. And this is not uncommon, it's not uncommon; it's been like this for decades, that they're historically, if you look at Black unemployment rates compared to white unemployment rates, they typically even in bad times and in good times, that the Black unemployment is typically twice that of the White unemployment rate. And then in terms of earnings, we saw that there was a narrowing in gaps particularly during the 1960s and the early ‘70s. But since the 1980s, some work that I've done with Valerie Wilson from the Economic Policy Institute has shown that there's been an expansion. Started expanding in the 1980s, during the 1990s, a little bit of a slowdown and improvement for some groups, Black groups, but then in the early 2000s, there's been expansion in earnings and employment and by that, the relative earnings of Blacks, compared to Whites did not keep pace. And then since the Great Recession, there's also been an expansion. And what does this mean in historical sense? In a historical sense, it means that today, roughly the extreme relative status of Black men is what it was in 1979. Let me say that again, today, particularly for Black men, the relative status compared to Whites is roughly what it was in 1979.
Now, there's a host of reasons and factors that explains differences in patterns, and that's where a lot of debate has occurred, and continues to occur amongst economists, even though it was just a recent kerfuffle on Twitter with some colleagues of mine, and still debating. So at the end of the day, where I stand on it, I look at the evidence, the earnings evidence that discrimination does play a key role in explaining the earnings differentials between Blacks and Whites and other groups. But there is strong evidence that differences in education, still, even though there's been dramatic gains and narrowing in educational differences, they still play a role in that experience on-the-job training, promotions, these differences, they still may contribute to racial inequality. And it's important to note too, that experience, that experience you get can also be a part of a discriminatory process.
Now, another example of a contributing factor to widespread earnings inequality is that if you take the result that I just mentioned about Valerie Wilson and I estimated, and others have estimated, if you incorporate as the study has done, the effects of incarceration, the effects of debt, unemployment rate differential, to what Kathryn's talking about the differences in participation between Blacks and Whites. If you account for those racial differences, you actually end up getting a changing conclusion about the relative status of Blacks. And that is, instead of like where we were in 1979, that would be on average where blacks were in 1950. So if you account for these, exiting the labor force, differential between Blacks and Whites, that you would end up saying that, and so 1979 being where Blacks are today, you would say 1950. Now, in the economics profession, there's a great deal of debate about these estimates and these evaluations. And why is it? Well, in sort of our jargon, it's basically a tug of war between what we call the omitted variable. And so what do I mean by that? Well, these estimates come from experiments, so that experiments from analysis where you basically have census data, one American Community survey data, and you compare Blacks and Whites who have the same education, or the same experience, who live in the same community, who have similar industries.
And what you find is that there still is a large, unexplained racial earnings gap, or income gap, or unemployment gap. Now the question then is some people want to suggest, "Oh, that's due to discrimination." But then others say, "Well, you have to take into account cognitive skills. You have to take into account cognitive skills or the kinds of degrees that you're getting. And so there's been that tug of war. I think the consensus now is that even when you account for cognitive skills, or what are called prelabor market factors, which can be ruled by discrimination too, that discrimination still is alive, unfortunately, in explaining these outcomes between Blacks and Whites. But what is really important is if you add to that research on earnings and unemployment to a variety of field in quasi experiments that test for discrimination—these are these in-person audit studies—that these provide even more direct evidence, and they provide more direct relevance and compelling evidence that discrimination remains a key feature of the Black experience.
What are we doing here? Well, you're basically—these experiments in a nutshell are comparing matched pairs of Blacks and Whites, who we are going to call testers who go out looking for jobs, and they have the same resume, same backgrounds. And the consensus is that Black testers have greater difficulty in the hiring process. Another set of studies that have been done is correspondence studies, where there's a … they've distributed approximately 5,000 fictitious resumes with randomly assigned Black or White-sounding names to more than 1,200 Boston and Chicago help-wanted ads, and found that resumes with White-sounding names received about 50 percent more follow ups. So yes, there's no silver bullet explanation for continued earnings inequality and employment differences between Blacks and Whites. There's no silver bullet, however, though, I think it the economics profession has started to move more to a view that, yes, discrimination in the context of earnings and income is still unfortunate and a reality for many, many, many Black Americans. But we also have to look at these other very important contributors, which could be, as I said earlier, aspects or features of discrimination, processes of discrimination. So let me stop there, and I'll be happy to answer your questions in the conversation, and I'll turn it over to Clair.
Clair Minson: Thanks, Bill. Good afternoon, I'm super excited to be here and sharing the virtual stage again with my colleagues and peers. My charge is really one to speak from the practitioner perspective. My work has been predominantly working with individuals, working with those Black workers predominantly who have experienced discrimination in terms of their job search and job access, access to jobs and economic mobility, career advancement. And so I want to talk about, I want to frame it, and then kind of dive into how we see discrimination show up in multiple levels.
So, the work of equity really requires us to look at root causes. So we can't just look at the manifestations, for example, the lower rates of participation in the labor market would be an example of a manifestation, we really have to look at what are the root causes. So policies, practices, cultural messages, aka stereotypes, like how we talk about individuals who have been historically excluded from the labor market participation. And the way that those things then work together to lead to differential outcomes based on race, or by race, rather. And so if we're saying we're doing the work of equity, and we're saying we're really trying to get to a society where we can ultimately be equal, we need equity to get to equality, then we have to look at what are those root causes. And if we say we're looking at root causes, then we have to name racism as a root cause.
Racism then manifests in four different levels, at the individual or personal level, at the interpersonal level, which is the interactions between people, and oftentimes our discussion likes to stay at that interpersonal level, right? This is happening between people, so then we got to label people as good or bad, racist or not racist, right? And then there's the institutional level, which is policies and practices within a given institution or organization that lead to discriminatory impacts or differences, but based on race and gender, as well. And then we look at this systemic level, right? So that's our policies at the federal, national, regional, local level, and the ways that they then impact practices on the ground in institutions, and the way that our communication, our narrative and cultural messages and cultural representations. So the way that those four levels work together is really a demonstration of structural racism. And so if my charge is to then talk about the ways in which discrimination shows up in the day to day lives of individuals who are looking for, or trying to get access to or get into, or advance within our labor market, then we have to say, "How does discrimination show up at the interpersonal level, at the institutional level, and at the systemic level?"
So for example, if we're thinking about, so I'll use workforce development because that's my background. We're thinking about working with individuals and connecting them to job opportunities. At the interpersonal level, we can very simply think about interviewing, right? If we think about interviewing, a lot of times when folks are interviewing, the interviewers are looking for someone who fits the organization; we need to deconstruct what fit means. And many times, that's influenced by the dominant professional standards. There's a link that I like to share called the bias of professional standards, and it talks about the ways in which cultural fit really centers norms [dog barks], that are rooted in white dominant characteristics. And so what that then leads to is an exclusion of people who are not showing up, or presenting, or speaking in a way that has been deemed the standard in a workplace. And so that bias then shows up or discrimination, then shows up in that interviewing process; that's at the interpersonal level.
If we move to the institutional level, then we're looking at, what are the policies within the institution, what are the practices that support or do not support upward mobility and advancement for workers? So that may mean having a mentoring program; this is something that's really popular, where we see organizations implement mentoring programs as a way to support the upward mobility of Black workers, or workers of color, non-Black workers of color. But if that institutional policy and practice does not intentionally and explicitly focus on the workers, Black workers and brown workers, who are historically and continue to be excluded from those processes, and/or if that mentoring program requires those workers to show up in a way that's not authentic to who they are as people, and doesn't value the experiences that they bring, particularly as Black and brown people, then it's not yielding the results that we hope to yield, so we see discrimination then happening in the form of that particular policy and practice.
As we look at this, another way to think about at the institutional level is also understanding requirements, evaluations, right? So what are the evaluations, and how are we gauging, how are we evaluating competency? How are we evaluating progress, and who's doing that evaluation? So here we see the line between interpersonal and institutional discrimination intersecting with one another. If we think about at the systemic level; sorry, one more institutional, it just came to me. Degree requirements, right? Particularly for entry level jobs, degree requirements versus lived experience. Our propensity to want to require degrees because they tell us, or so we believe they tell us something about a person's abilities and skills, over their true lived experience, right? Their professional working life experience, and the way that we value those degrees over the lived experiences is another example of how institutional racism shows up or discrimination shows up. And if we think about at the systemic level, we look at licensing boards and credentialing bodies that prevent folks with a criminal background, right? They may be able to go through retraining, but then they can't get the licensing they need to get employment to advance in their career. And so that's the way that those three levels in particular work together to then have discriminatory impacts on Black and brown communities. So I'll pause there, because I know there'll be some additional questions and comments.
Andreason: Thank you all for that. I actually want to start with a clarifying question that came in for Bill, to see if you could explain just a little bit more your reference to the relative position of Black workers today to 1950. We had a question of someone just wanted to know if you could talk a little bit about more about how you got there. We've got a lot of questions coming in, I will say that right after that clarifying question, I'm hoping that we can jump into a conversation about a broad question that we got, about how research on structural racism and disparities can then inform policies that broadly support the workforce and support the economy. So, we'll start with that clarifying question for Bill, and then I just want to open it up to you all on that broader question. To our audience, I want to remind you, there's a Q&A button at either the bottom or top of your screen, depending on how Zoom is showing on your screen. Please put your questions in there; if we don't get to them today, we will answer them written; we'll get you an answer. So go ahead and do that, and that'll inform our conversation. So, Bill?
Rodgers: Sure, thank you Stuart. So with the work that Valerie and I did, and many others do, when they're estimating what we would call a Black-White earnings gap or wage gaps, there's a host of assumptions that are made when you do that. And what I mean by that is that, when you're just looking at earnings and typically, a lot of these calculations are done where we focus on full-time workers, full-year workers. And so what happens is that since Blacks have a higher unemployment rate, lower participation rates as a share of a population, you're excluding a large part of the population when you're just focusing on earnings. This isn't to say you shouldn't do earnings calculation, but you need to just understand those assumptions. And so within that phrase, it's commonly used is called selectivity bias. That because Blacks have more challenges with regards to getting interviews, getting hired, and getting offers, unemployment rates are typically higher; their durations of unemployment are higher, so there tend to be part-time or part-year workers. And so what happens is there was a response to saying, "Well, hold on, we're excluding an important set of people." And many of them if they were in the labor force, that's the key point here, if they're in the labor force who aren't working, they most likely would have on average lower earnings, earnings that are lower than the average.
And so what that means is when you incorporate them into your calculation or that could be simply as treating them as having zero earnings or even trying to predict their earnings based upon their features or characteristics, right? That when you incorporate that, so however you do that, the wage gap gets bigger. It gets bigger compared to if you are looking at people who all have earnings and working full time. Where do you go to get this ... And so that first calculation of just using people who have actual earnings, that's where we get this. A lot of what the wage gap today is roughly what it was in 1979 between Blacks and White men. Now, because of the crime bill, because of other intense efforts around policing and criminalization of nonviolent behaviors by a disproportionate share of Blacks, Black men were out of the labor force, but not only out of the labor force, out of the civilian population. When you are incarcerated, you are considered to be … the noninstitutionalized part of the population. So they're not even in the calculation. So [inaudible], who are the ones who did this study, came up with various approaches to account for this disproportionate exiting of Black men. And when you do that and incorporate them and somehow generate a prediction of their earnings, or you treat them as zero, or having zero income, that's where you then get the relative gap, being like since 1979 to 1950. I hope that was a clearer answer for you.
Andreason: Thanks. And why don't we jump into the question. Kathryn or Clair, if you'd like to start off, on how studying disparity in the labor market can inform policies and programs that help support workers in the economy? That's our next question for this afternoon.
Minson: Was that your virtual hand off to me, Kathryn? OK, so I'm re-reading the question. And so this is a question about, can you re-read the question for me? I'm sorry.
Andreason: Yeah, absolutely. So, the question that we got was about how studying disparities, how studying structural racism can help inform policies that support the economy and support the American workforce broadly.
Minson: Got it, thank you. So understanding data is a huge component to this work, and so if we understand where disparities are and which groups are disproportionately impacted or left out, then we can develop policies and practices that are explicit and specific for that particular population. And so the disparities allow us to say like, here's where we need to narrow our focus, and I'm being pretty vague, but here's where we need to narrow our focus to support a particular group. So to go to Bill's example of Black men, if we know that Black men in particular are experiencing these larger gaps, then we need to craft policies that create a space where we're providing additional resources, additional, whether it's financial resources, or human capital resources to support Black men because we know that they're largely disproportionately impacted, right? And so looking at the disparities across different communities, nationally, but also locally, will then help us to really create explicit and intentional policies that hopefully will yield to closing those disparities. So now I can virtually pivot to Kathryn.
Edwards: I'll add, not as a person, but as the ruthless, cold-blooded economist that I am, that we don't live in a world of infinite resources. And one key goal of research into labor market disparities is also to understand where the biggest gains can be made. And how can we direct policy that has perhaps limited ability to spend or limited willpower and support to have the biggest return, both in terms of, again, ruthless economist or economic investment of that policy, but really for the livelihoods and the economic success of people in the United States and in our economy. And so, research is about defining the problem, but equally about identifying places for tractable or possibly intractable solutions that we need to tackle anyway. So we've given the idea that there's a need to prioritize, that this research in data helps us find that priority. And I would say to Clair's point also, it helps us identify who are the actors that need to pursue that policy.
The federal government is not the only entity that has the room to make change. There's room for the federal government, state and local governments, private employers, workforce boards, institutes like the Federal Reserve and its branch systems, and so that part of identifying the problem and solution is also identifying upon whom is it incumbent to execute that solution?
Andreason: That's actually like a perfect moment to combine a couple of questions that we got, and we might want to kind of pause on these for a couple of minutes, but we got two that are very similar to that. One is that a significant amount of workforce money comes from the federal government. Now if we talk about kind of how that actually works, that then gets shipped to states, who ship it to local regions and areas that then administer programs. One of the questions was specifically how localities? So not the federal government, and the federal government in the recent Biden executive order has encouraged federal programs to find ways to eliminate racial disparities, but how do localities actually do that? Because that's part of their charge. So local governments and local workforce boards and community action is part of that. And so we had a question on suggestions for local activities, both within the public workforce system but beyond. The other one that we had was from the employer perspective. What can employers do to change the way that they offer employment, that they have jobs that turn them more into opportunities that are longer term, that are better for workers and meet their needs as well? Why don't we start with the employer part, and once we've kind of been able to have the chance to talk about that, then let's move to the public side, to the local government and workforce board one, because there's a lot there. I don't want to put anyone on the spot, anyone want to jump in on employers?
Rodgers: I'll jump in on the employer. And it is more of a say philosophical approach, or it's an approach of just... I heard it in a bit of Clair and Kathryn's comments in that, and for me it's changing mindsets. Over my career, I've built a career around developing change narratives, and one example of this was... And I think this can be grafted to other situations, but when I was at the College of William & Mary, one of the largest employers in Williamsburg, a grassroots group pay raised the attention to the community that our landscapers and housekeepers for the college, who were predominately Black men and Black women, were facing major challenges; they weren't even earning a living wage.
But the problem was we had a board of trustees that had a very different view on... They were fine with that, that's their tactic on the value of the mindset, of this is what people were getting paid, that must be what they're worth, independent of could they make a living, could they survive. But the president was in this hard problem because his bosses, basically the board of directors, didn't want him to address the problem. So change narrative. I came back from working for the Labor Department, and I said to the dean and the president, "I think I can solve your problem. And the problem is, we need to build this as a business problem. We need to be able to show that by having this segment of our employee staff, that our kids at the College of William & Mary are not getting as good an education as they could be." Because the classrooms are dirty etc.; it's just not a great environment for learning. And so we did an analysis—this gets back to why evidence is important. We did an analysis that showed... And again, we kind of knew what we're going to find, but we showed that when you pay wages in the $7, $7.30 an hour, for a number of years, you're going to have high turnover, you're going to have greater training costs, greater search costs. And so by building this model and coming to these employers with that model to say, "Hey, let's rethink how we're making choices here." That we kind of came halfway, and said, "Let's live in your world." And we showed them using evidence, building a narrative that said that we can do better. That if we do pay our employees and people better, we'll see it through reduced cost, we'll see happy employees, we'll see better facilities, we'll see enhanced and better education. So that's one example … that has been grafted in other communities.
Edwards: Bill, to that point, this comes up a lot when it comes to women's earnings. And women have a different set of challenges in terms of labor market equality than Black men and Black women, just women overall as a group. But one thing that research has found pretty consistently is that, a lot of the relationship between women's pay disparity has to do with whether or not in the corporate culture, they are the exception or the rule, right? Are you accommodating women, or are you changing your culture so that women don't have to be accommodated? So, an example would be, do you have paid family leave for women, or do you have paid family leave for parents, right? Because you're setting up from the beginning that we're going to accommodate women, and this special need that they have when they give birth to children, and we're going to pay for it, because this is a good thing to do. But you're basically, in accommodating women, you're creating a disparity.
And [inaudible] studies have looked at whether or not women take the full amount of leave that they're offered at a firm, so this is paid leave. And the women who take the full amount of leave, anywhere from three to five years later, are paid less than the women who didn't take their full leave. And so the closer that women get to looking like men, the better they're paid. Which is to say that you are paying men and women differently, and that women's behavior is hiding this kind of cultural difference in your pay. So as an employer, this is an incredibly difficult problem. But we are at a moment of also incredible opportunity, even now, about one in four American workers are at home. We have a chance to remake a lot of aspects of our employer culture, and so I think it helps, you know, from the women's perspective, are women the exception or the rule? Do you accommodate them, or are they just workers? And this will come up a lot, I think, for firms that have flexible arrangements and remote possibility; are all of your women workers working remote, and they're paid less or promoted less?
When it comes to race, it's a similar concept but applied through a different lens where this has to kind of recognize pipelines into employment and expectations once they arrive. Is there a kind of culture set by a predominantly White managerial class? It's not to say that there's anything wrong with those managers or that they don't like Black people, but culture does come from the people in it. And so this is, again, very hard conversations, but this is where I think, thinking about what defines your culture, from the hiring practice through the promotion practice and are there obvious ways in which men and women, or which Black workers and White workers are differentiated that you may or may not recognize; that's a way for an employer to think about it. Again, a very difficult question, but one that I think moving forward will require an answer. And I'll say with the example, one of the first Black CEOs of a major company was McDonald's. And McDonald's was seen as a paragon of, kind of a good employer that has parity between Black and White workers. That CEO was fired; they had a new CEO, and within about five years, there was a class action lawsuit on behalf of Black owners of McDonald's franchisees to say that they were discriminated against. And so I would say that the lesson from these types of kind of case studies of corporate employers is that having diversity and inclusion in a way that Black and White workers are equal is not a state that you arrive in and that you live in; it's one that you have to constantly achieve, and companies go backward just as much as they go forward.
Minson:I think I have a few different ways I think about it; one is the rebel in me, so I'll get there. I think data is really important, like making the business case and showing data to the employers to say like, everybody will be better if you make these changes, right? I think though, we're walking a really fine line because right now we position; we continue to uphold the power that employers have when we don't essentially confront and/or make hard decisions about which employer partners we will work with, and support talent, or create pipelines for talent, and which ones we simply will not. And that's at the, you know, there was a question about WIOA and the localities, that's thinking about what are the incentives that are provided to employers, and how do we make sure that those incentives, whether they are financial, or, for example, income or worker training funds, how do we make sure that they're based on the quality of pay and the quality of jobs? And how do we think of kind of creating tiers around the supports that we'll provide, or leveraging our public access to public funding, to provide support to employers based on the quality of jobs, right?
Workforce practitioners and organizations who are working with employers need to make really hard decisions about which employer partners they're going to continue to work with and which ones they're not, right? How do we do a better job of actually capturing information from the experiences of those that we're working with and connecting to places of employment to really categorize and understand what the workplace culture is and how they're actually supporting their workers or not. And then make the decision to either go on the journey with that employer, or completely walk away. We are at a point in time where there is a space and time for educating and coming along with the journey, and then sometimes we just have to decide, this employer is choosing not to make this decision. And so data is important, education or resources is important, but also making the hard decision, finding ways to leverage incentives, to get employers to shift behavior. But not everybody's going to want to shift; not everybody has bought into the business case for it. And so then we have to figure out how do we also shift the power that employers hold, and that's in our interaction, and it's in our incentivizing, or non-incentivizing. So, that didn't exactly answer the question, but that's where my head went. So, I'll leave it at that.
Andreason: Thanks. But not super far off from that, and thinking about how we will send, what role do local governments play, both broadly, potentially, in their economic development activities, in their workforce development activities? But broadly, what role do local governments play? And do you have suggestions with things that are currently happening [inaudible], and through the federal government, that states and municipal governments can do to promote equity?
Rodgers: Yeah, yes, definitely. So one of the activities I've been tasked with for the next year or so is serving as the panel chair for the National Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Sciences. And the panel I'm chairing is a panel of experts who have been tasked to evaluate the efficacy of some wage data that was collected by the EEOC in 2017 and 2018. Why is this important? Well, up until then, until now from regulatory standpoint, the EEOC only collects employment data in that first pass in terms of its dealing with employers, and employers who have—they're large employees, with 100 employees or more. And there's been an effort to get employers to also provide wage data in this first [inaudible]. For a number of years, when I was at the Department of Labor in 2000, there was a pilot study that was utilized trying to assess the efficacy of having employers provide wage data upfront. Again, why is this important? Well, the EEOC, as I've been taught or been learning, is that they use these reports as a way to educate employers. Because a large part is about transparency, which is good, it's about transparency.
But they also utilize the data to figure out, OK, who is an outlier, potentially, in terms of their employment utilization. And it collects on utilization, and on promotion information, but the one problem is that if we just focus on employment, we miss the wage inequities, and not saying they're due to discrimination, not just yet, but if we don't have that wage data up front, we can't do these similar kinds of analysis on identifying pay disparities of a company compared to its peers. So what the federal level, as the administrations have gone back and forth, Democratic administrations have been for the collection of wage data, the Republican administrations have been against it, and the business community has raised a lot of concerns about overburdening, by having to require much more of them. So, it just teeters back and forth. And what's been really interesting as a part of our, basically learning, sort of learnings over the last few months, I've learned that California, I believe Illinois, and Minnesota, they've actually gone ahead and are requiring large employers to provide their wage data. And so, ideally, you would love it to be at the federal level, and we'll see what the data tells us, and we have a vendor who just came on, he's going to be doing the analysis for us, and we'll be sort of evaluating the quality of the data that EEOC collected or will be collecting. But it's another example where I put the minimum wage, right? Have a logjam with the federal, in here where states, 25 states have raised their minimum wages. And here, potentially, we could see more and more states be the progressive agent and go out and do this collection. Because in their communities, they understand—again, all economics is local—they understand the value of this information. And they have fewer political constraints or social or cultural constraints that are dominating the inability to do things at the federal level. So, stay tuned.
Minson: I would just add, I would echo what Bill has shared, and what I would add in thinking about like local hire policies, and how do we make sure that they have stronger teeth for accountability, so not just like, we need to hire X amount of people who work locally, which is sometimes codeword for Black and brown people. But how do we also make sure that they're actually retained on the job, and how do we make sure that they're advancing and to the wages question. And so how do we make sure that we're tracking long term, and then we're connecting and attaching incentives based on that. If we're looking at the economic development and we're recruiting employers and businesses, then yes, we need access to talent data, period. Like, who are you hiring, who you're firing, at what rate, etc. And not just highlighting the number of jobs an employer has and is bringing into a particular local area or region, but are we also explicitly looking at like, is your industry segregated? Is there occupational segregation? How are you contributing to that? How do we make sure that then, in our support we're able to help you advance workers of color within your industry; and make those metrics a requirement, and incentivize the dollars—the tax dollars that are attached to it need to be attached too, right? Like these advancing, looking at wage parity, looking at retention, and looking at advancement and not just number of jobs. And so getting really explicit and specific, I think, and finding ways to use existing structures and policies and practices to then really drive us toward equity. The last thing that I'll add; nevermind, I'll stop there.
Edwards: I think that the pandemic has been instructive in a lot of ways, in terms of revealing weaknesses in our economy, writ large in certain structures that we have. And I think that for cities and local governments who are trying to understand how they're doing in terms of equity policy, and what the problems are, it could be instructive to think about how did the vaccine rollout go in terms of, were your low-income populations vaccinated, were your Black populations vaccinated. And I think, I was talking to a colleague who works on public health, that it's very illustrative of some of the problems that you kind of build a vaccine rollout, unintentionally designing it for a basically higher income and more likely to be White population. Like, here's a place, come at a time, sign up over the internet, and arrive to get your vaccine. Where there are lots of points at which someone would have problems accessing the policy as you've designed it. And she brought that up in the sense that, that's a way to think about, not just public health touchpoints, but workforce development touchpoints and kind of city-subsidy touch points, like the way that it can be hard to reach a community.
And vaccine rollout was instructive of that for a lot of people, because of the disparity in initial vaccinations. I bring that up as a way to say that it can be hard to know how a company or a local government is doing, but evidence of progress doesn't necessarily have to just come from wages or employment. There are ways that your city or your state are intended to connect with certain populations, and therefore there are other indicators of whether or not that connection is being made strongly or disparately.
Rodgers: Stuart, if I could also, just building on what Kathryn and Clair said. The other thing that—this is a really, really, really important question, because of the [inaudible] dollars that are going out to state and local communities. And I'm not going to carry those numbers on the top of my head, but I've seen some of the estimates of the amount of money or dollars that are going to a county level. These are, even though they are one-time tranches, these are major shares of many communities' budgets, as a share of their existing budget, the amount of money that they're going to be getting or starting to get is very, very nontrivial. And so for those who are looking at participating, figure out how to, you know, your community's best, but you've got to figure out how you can get a seat at the table, where you can provide inputs, and then ask for the transparency of, OK, how are these decisions being made? Why is it going to these communities? Why is it going to this particular group? Because the pessimistic part of me is that many members of Congress are starting to refine; some of the Democrats are starting to refine … being fiscally conservative with being fiscally disciplined. And so the chances of seeing additional large transfers of money coming to local communities and over the next few years—I think that the odds are starting to fall. So really working on asking for, demanding transparency about how the dollars—fortunately, here in New Jersey, the governor has reached out to myself and a group of nonprofit leaders and has asked us to give some guidance on how to invest these, as Kathryn said, even though they're large amounts, they're scarce. Over time, they are scarce. So, demand transparency.
Andreason: Unmute, someone had to do it. I want to ask one lightning-round question to wrap us up, hopefully on a call toward action, and this is a question that we got from the audience. But what's one thing, one data point, one suggestion that you have, that might help bring a new partner into the fold. Might help bring someone along, might help open the door for a conversation with the business around issues of promoting equity? What's one thing that each of you all would suggest? That'll be our final question. We had a lot of questions. There'll be a few that we'll have to answer in follow-up, but we will do those. So, Bill, why don't we start with you?
Rodgers: Sure. I think it's a repeat of something I've said earlier, and that really is working together to build change narratives; and to do that, understand, OK, what are the incentives and requirements? And what are the incentives that are at play here in terms of creating these people's decisions? And then build that narrative to say, "Hey, let's think about this a little differently." I think if you take a different tack, pick a high-wage approach, you actually get reduced turnover, you get reduced quitting. And as Stuart in your introduction you linked that to productivity, which ultimately feeds into economic growth. So build that dialogue, build a dialogue, understand what each groups' needs are, and develop that change narrative that incorporates or reduces the blind spots that many of us unfortunately are experiencing. Kathryn said with the murder of George Floyd, with the pandemic, take advantage also of this time we are in, and that it's not about just relief and recovery; it's about reimagination.
Andreason: Clair, let's turn to you.
Minson: And just finger-snaps that, that it is about reimagination. I would say when I was in Baltimore, before I transitioned to New Orleans, we commissioned a report to look at the patterns of employment by race for our Baltimore and metro area. And what it did, was it showed us where Black workers were concentrated … and even in industries with high wages, they were still concentrated in the lower-paying positions. It showed us what the turnover rates were for Black workers; it showed us what the wage gaps were, and so Black and White workers in the finance industry, White workers were making $60,000 more than Black workers. And so what that data allowed us to do, was equip our leaders in government positions to have more intentional conversations with their employer partners. So I'm encouraging folks, if you can get this aggregated data within your local or regional area, that's looking specifically at patterns of employment by race, then that data can equip you to have conversations at lots of different tables, and it really allowed us to make much more headway than we were without it. So that would be my recommendation. These folks here clearly have influenced me.
Andreason: Thank you. And Kathryn, last word today.
Edwards: Sure. I'll go back to what I said at the beginning, that our economy is determined by the success of people in it, both are they working and how much they're earning. And so, when met with skepticism about the importance of this topic, I reiterate that this is about whether or not we want to clip our own wings, right? Making 80 cents on the dollar, that makes our economy smaller; making 60 cents on the dollar, that makes our economy smaller. Two and a half million people in prison, six million people in prison—all of these things are not the full extent of the economic contribution that workers could make if they were fully incorporated as workers making wages commensurate with what we would expect given their education and experience. These type of penalties on an economywide sense, I think, might be palatable for people to understand, but there's no reason why that kind of basic truth doesn't filter down to even the smallest micro level, that an employer is clipping their own wings by not having a diverse workforce that's paid equally. And that these are very hard challenges to overcome; these are not policies that are... I mean, our discussion could have been five minutes long, if it was like, "Oh yeah, just do this." I mean, there's so much to overcome, but it all comes down to do you want to reach the economic potential of this country, of your city, of your states, of your business? And that involves everyone and not just the easiest ones.
Andreason: Well, thank you. And I feel confident in saying thank you on behalf of the audience today for Bill and Clair and Kathryn joining us today. Thank you for the questions; we use these to kind of think about what more we can learn on, and we learn from everyone that's been involved today. We will follow up with more information in just probably about a week and a half, two weeks, when we get everything together, and we'll share that with all of our attendees. And thank you to our speakers again. So we will be back. We've got a couple upcoming events; I will send out information on them. Our center's next event will be on August 4 with the AARP, focusing on serving workers that are long-term unemployed. And I will just note that tomorrow, colleagues at the Atlanta Fed are going to hold an event on career pathways and benefits cliffs as part of our Inclusive & Resilient Recovery series. So search for that and join them. We thank you all for everything that you all do in your communities to create opportunity, and we hope we can find ways to help inform your work. Thanks so much. And with that, we're done for today.