Uneven Outcomes in the Labor Market: Understanding Trends and Identifying Solutions: Day 4 - Career Pathways - February 4, 2021
- Conference information & agenda
- Speaker bios
- Day 1 video & transcript
- Day 2 video & transcript
- Day 3 video & transcript
Day 4: Career Pathways
Mary C. Daly, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, kicks off this final session of the Uneven Outcomes in the Labor Market: Understanding Trends and Identifying Solutions virtual conference. The session focuses on new research that addresses disparities in career pathways by race and educational attainment.
Heidi Kaplan: Welcome to the fourth and final day of the Uneven Outcomes in the Labor Market conference. I'm Heidi Kaplan from the Federal Reserve Board. And the Board organized this conference with the community development staff from the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. Our goal this week is to deepen your understanding of disparities in the labor market, and to explore solutions to address these inequities. Please know that the opinions offered today represent the individuals providing the remarks, and not the Federal Reserve Board or the Federal Reserve System. We have some resources available for you today online. There are resource buttons you will see on the top of the screen where you can access today's materials, including the presentation slides for the researchers. Their full bios are attached there and there is a link to the conference website. Also, as with the rest of the week, we will be using Slido today for online questions and conversations. You can access Slido from any device at Slido.com using the hashtag, #UnevenOutcomes. Or you can access Slido in the box to my right. I don't know if I'm pointing the right way on the screen. Please submit questions and comments at any time. We will be responding to questions throughout the session, and we will have the opportunity to pass questions to our speakers during the question-and-answer session at the end.
OK, now the logistics are done, and we are on to the fun part of the day. I'm pleased to kick off today's conversation with remarks from Mary Daly, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. President Daly is deeply engaged in the topic of labor market disparities, and she is the coauthor of the paper presented by Laura Choi this past Monday, titled "Economic Gains from Equity." President Daly works to connect economic principles to real-world concerns, and is a sought-after speaker on monetary policy, labor economics, and increasing the diversity within the economic field. Since taking office in 2018, President Daly has committed her bank to community engagement, transparency, and responsiveness to the people they serve. President Daly earned a PhD from Syracuse University, and she also completed a National Institute of Aging postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University. This is a short list of her many accomplishments. After the following presentation, I have no doubt you will want to learn more. So please sit back and enjoy President Daly's remarks titled "Good Intentions."
Mary Daly: About 40 years ago, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop, waiting to have a conversation with one of my students. We'd just finished a semester at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. I was her peer teacher, leading review sessions for the history of science. A required course. I had done the job for only one term, but I loved it. I loved the teaching, loved the helping, loved the students. All 100-plus of them. So when the semester came to an end, I just couldn't wait to see my evaluations. And they were great. One after another, giving me high marks and expressing thanks. I remember this feeling of pride, a tremendous sense of pride, like maybe I had found my calling. So I kept reading. But as I got close to the end of the stack, I came across one that was unexpected. In the margin of the form, handwritten in pen, someone had asked, I wonder if Mary is a racist. I kept staring at it thinking it was a joke. One of those ironic puns that says the opposite of what is true, but it wasn't. It was an actual question written by one of my students. Fortunately, even though the evaluations were anonymous, the student had signed her name. I knew her. I had talked with her really so many times.
After a few breaths, I decided to reach out. That is how I found myself sitting in a coffee shop, waiting to have a conversation that felt both perplexing and worrisome. It was a hard meeting for both of us. But we talked. A lot. And here is what I learned. The young woman was one of two black students in my class that year. They were friends. They had come to me together at the beginning of the semester, just to check in. They shared that they had gone to the high school near campus. I had heard about this school; it was thought to be a really tough ride. Limited resources, lots of disruptions, low academic performance. They were worried that the history of science, a hard class, was a high bar for their first semester. I empathized with them. I had struggled with the class in my first term, so I literally sprang into action. I thought about what I could do to make sure they succeeded. I made a plan, I spent extra time, and I worked to build their confidence. Here is what that looked like to them. I didn't push, I gave them easier assignments, I congratulated them for minor successes. I held them to a different, lower standard than I set for the rest of the class. And they felt it. Every time. Like a cut. After a semester of me doing this, they did not feel confident. They felt unseen, skipped over, and they wondered if maybe I was a racist.
And why wouldn't they? For a whole semester, my students had observed the way I treated them. And how different it was from the way I treated everyone else in the class. I had used the information they had shared with me about where they went to school as an unintentional weapon against them. Looking back, I see I was caught up in my own experience. I never asked them what I could do to be helpful. I just jumped in. I assumed I knew what they needed based on a few facts about the background. I let my good intentions and the feeling of doing good be my metric for success. I remember this like it was yesterday. My student, her untouched coffee, the look on her face when she said, "I thought you understood me. You don't even know what I'm capable of." I failed in my responsibility to those students, that is clear. But this story is not unique to me. It happens every day, with all of us. We think we know what people need, what is best for them. We want to do something to contribute. So we move in quickly, to fix, solve, or soothe, before we ever bother to ask. It's the tyranny of good intentions, and it allows assumptions and biases to drive our behavior.
Now the fact that I had done this, that I had judged my students' abilities based on their background, devastated me. I entered college with a GED after dropping out of high school at age 15. So many times, well-intentioned people assumed they knew me, what I could do, what I needed, what I could be. Always a little less than what I had hoped for. And each time, it pained me, it discouraged me. Until one day, it didn't. Because someone looked past where I had come from and saw me for me for what I wanted to be. But that's the insidious thing about biases, they are so deeply rooted in us, we don't even realize we are perpetuating that. It doesn't matter how many times we've seen them, or been victims of them, they repeat until eventually they become our truth. I end up on that class, on that day, asking less of my two black students from a low-income high school. And all of us, each and every day, settle for persistent gaps between Blacks and whites, men and women, rural and urban dwellers, those with and without advantage. Gaps that feel familiar, may be inevitable, definitely embedded. So that even when we know aptitude, interest, and talent aren't the privilege of a few, we see differences as deficiency; we see others as less. Against that picture, good intentions seem good enough.
After the coffee, I went home, and I did what you might expect, I vowed not to repeat the same mistakes. I took classes, did antibias training, filled up countless workbooks. And what I learned is that the practice of equity requires accountability. And it takes work. The fact is, humans have biases. Some, like unconscious biases, are impossible to completely eliminate. So we have to be intentional. We have to develop practices, behaviors, habits, and policies that minimize the impact of our biases on our decisions. We also have to put down our armor of good intentions, really put it down, and on the outcomes, whether we meant to cause them or not. This is the hardest part about practicing equity. It takes humility. We have to be willing to see ourselves in the world around us through the eyes of others. To move beyond our good intentions and consider the outcomes we create. Accepting the difference between impact and intent takes continuous commitment. It also takes courage. To have hard conversations again and again, to listen with curiosity, even when it feels bad, and to take what we learned and make practical change. Only then will we really be accountable for impact, only then can we truly make a difference.
When I think back on that conversation with my student, I feel grateful. She was brave, and I learned. But I also feel responsible for making sure that people and their potential are seen. That they don't have to fight for our attention or prove that they deserve it. And most of us, am I a racist? That feels easy to answer. Of course not. It's almost reflexive. But the question isn't about that. It's about asking whether each day we are inexorably and intentionally giving people an opportunity. Seeing their potential is boundless and doing whatever they need to see that through. People, all of us, rise or fall to expectations. And in this, we have the power to lift. My students wanted me to believe in them. To validate that they belonged and treat them like that was true. And we all have that ability to see others as equals and invest and mentor and support.
The question is, will we use it? Achieving equity in our society is an audacious goal, and it is long overdue. It will require systemic change that fundamentally alters the institutions we've built. It also will require us; institutions are simply mirrors. They reflect who we are, and who we want to be. If we change, so will they. So today, let's begin. One person at a time, starting with me, starting with you.
Kaplan: Wow, that was powerful. Am I the only one who needs to pause after hearing those remarks? As we transition to the rest of our day, and take some time to ponder President Daly's remarks, I would like you to take a look at a poll that should be popping up in Slido on the screen. It gives you a chance to think about your own, how you manage your own career advancement, and how much personal interaction versus other aspects have had a chance to play in that. President Daly certainly provided us with a call to action in a year that has already asked a lot of every person here. The last few days, we focused on improving labor market outcomes through systems and policy changes. President Daly is asking us also to consider the role of the individual and how each of us can consider our personal interactions with colleagues and associates to effect real change.
I would like to take a look at the poll results right now, and I'm waiting for them to pop up real quick. Here we go. It looks like personal relationships have meant a lot to a lot of people. Managers and mentors, people have said, about half the people are saying they've had the biggest impact on their careers, followed by their degrees and credentials, followed by work-based learning programs, as we are evening out little bit. Finally, as always, perseverance and planning are going to take a role. Thank you for participating and keep looking as that updates with additional people participating.
So let's talk about the topic of the day, which is career pathways, and not just personal interactions. If you were with us yesterday, the conversation on education and credentials, you already heard President Harker and Chauncey Lennon make the obvious connection between education, skills, and jobs. Today, Elisabeth Jacobs from the Urban Institute will take us deeper into the topic of building career pathways and increasing economic mobility for low-wage workers. Elisabeth is a senior fellow in the center on labor, human services, and population at the Urban Institute focusing on issues related to family, economic security, and economic mobility. She serves as the deputy director of WorkRise, a research-to-action network on jobs, workers, and mobility hosted by the Urban Institute. And for the first time, she served as WorkRise's of founding executive director. I'm very pleased to share the screen on the stage with Elisabeth.
Elisabeth Jacobs: Thanks so much, Heidi. I want to thank you all for joining us today, and extend a special thank you to the staff of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, as well as the Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, and Philly regional Feds for creating the opportunity for all of us to learn together. I would also like to especially thank President Daly for those remarks; they were astoundingly powerful, brave, thought-provoking, and I'm very much looking forward to the conversation that happens after my remarks and after the presentations, as I imagine we will pull through some of those threats that she laid down for us all. As Heidi said, my name is Elisabeth Jacobs. I'm a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and also deputy director of WorkRise. Today's session is focused on career pathways.
Now, for those of you who are in the workforce development field, you likely hear career pathways and think of it as a term of art. Career pathways models of workforce development are designed to get people the training they need to find good jobs and to support employers in finding skilled workers. So I imagine the discussion following the research presentations will indeed circle back to career pathways as models of workforce development and as potential solutions to some of the labor market stickiness that we talked about over the course of the last few days. I wanted to step back in my framing of the session, to situate the conversation in the broader context of labor market mobility, particularly for those who start at the bottom of the earnings ladder. So, a growing body of research characterizing workers, mobility out of low-wage jobs coalesces around four rough stylized facts.
So first, low-wage jobs are sticky. About half of prime-age workers, workers ages 25 to 64, who began employment in a low-wage job are still in a low-wage job within four years. So, an example of recent research using 1968 to 2014 data to track the wage trajectories of workers starting their careers in low-wage jobs, the researchers find that on average, about 40 percent of service workers, just to take one industry where folks are in low-wage employment, remain in low-wage jobs after six years. So they are sticky in the sense of, if you are in a low-wage job, your chances of still being in a low-wage job several years out are arguably high.
Second key fact: Upward earnings mobility has declined since 2000. So the decline in upward earnings mobility is largest for low-wage entrants into manual, clerical, and service occupations. The steepest decline in rates over time was in service occupations. Low-wage entrants into professional and technical occupations saw a slight increase in mobility rates over the 2000s. And we also know the median starting wage for workers in entry level low-wage jobs has also decreased by about 4 percent across occupations, relative to the median wage. That adds up to about a 66 cents per hour decrease, which may not seem like much especially to, I imagine many of this audience who are making substantially higher wages than the ones we are talking about, but the cumulative effect is substantial, especially given how low the wage floor is in the U.S.
Third key fact: Education and skills are important, but they don't create the same opportunities for all workers. So for example, we know from research that higher education significantly narrows racial gaps and labor force precipitation and on women, but it doesn't equalize earnings. A new analysis from PolicyLink USC, Burning Glass Technologies, and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions tell us that white workers with a high school diploma and no college degree earn more than black workers with an associate's degree. So that is a snapshot at one point in time.
Longitudinal research that parses the relative role of education and skills across demographic groups suggest that the opportunity gap exists for mobility as well. So older workers, Black and other workers of color, women, and especially mothers experience weaker upward earnings mobility outcomes than their education, skills, and labor market experience predict. So while the gender opportunity gap, ie, the gap between men and women, is actually larger than the racial opportunity gap, so the gap between Black workers and other workers of color versus white workers, the gender gap in mobility has narrowed somewhat over time, while the opportunity gap for Black and other workers of color has actually increased over the last decade and a half. Shameless plug, for those of you are interested in learning more about the intersection of education, race, and mobility, I encourage you to join me and my colleagues from WorkRise on February 17, for an event on this topic. We will be featuring new research from economist Darrick Hamilton and his coauthors, and Darrick will be in conversation with a phenomenal panel of practitioners from both the public and private sectors, and you can register on the website at WorkRise network.org.
Back to my stylized facts, number four: Not all occupations provide the same pathways to higher wages, and some occupations at this point seem to provide virtually no pathway at all. So mobility due to returns from occupational experience is substantially higher in manual occupation categories like construction, and machine operation, as compared to service occupations such as food service and cleaning. Indeed, low skill, low-wage occupations make up the greater share, a greater share of the labor market today than they have in the past, and that may explain some of the decline in earnings mobility over time. So for instance, research finds young workers had lower rates of wage work over the 2000 as compared to a comparable cohort of workers in the 1980s, and that was due in part to higher rates of employment in service occupations for the 2000s cohort.
In addition, alternative work arrangements, including the rise of domestic outsourcing and part-time work, which were part of the conversation that happened yesterday, have further destabilized the low-wage labor market. These changes in industrial organization may have in turn made inter...[inaudible] mobility pathways more difficult to navigate, as the fissuring of the workforce into myriads of specialized siloed employers may have made it more difficult for low-wage workers to move up along a career pathway within a given firm.
So what does this stylized set of facts imply for how we improve earnings mobility prospects for workers in low-wage jobs? How do we effectively support workers' transitions into new jobs with new employers in higher wage sectors of the labor market? Is it possible to build out upward earnings trajectories for workers and occupations that have historically offered little to no opportunity for mobility, and how do we build career pathways in the context of arguably extreme uncertainty about the labor market, due to the evolving COVID-19 health crisis and its impact on the future of work.
I will turn back to where I have started. Career pathways models are an applied approach designed to answer this how question. And indeed, federal law, both the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, encouraged career pathways as an important workforce development strategy for building American workers' skills and credentials, and meeting employer demand. But we don't know very much about how career pathways can support career advancement, that leads to jobs and support a stable career and family sustaining wages. Too often, career pathways programming focuses on the first step of the pathway: entry-level jobs that are often accompanied by very low wages and few or no benefits. Most of the research to date has focused on this first stage, getting workers into jobs. It shown some promise, in improving short-term educational and employment outcomes, but both programming and evidence on pathways beyond that first step remains scant, and the little evidence we do have is mixed at best.
We know even less about how to close the opportunity gaps in mobility. What are the most effective policies and programs for promoting earnings, mobility for workers of color, women, and especially Black and brown women? How does enduring occupational segregation by both race and gender intersect with efforts to promote skills-based career pathways? How does enduring structural racism impact a worker's chance of success in navigating career pathways? And what do we know about how to effectively support workers of color, women, especially mothers, and others who have been historically been shut out of meaningful opportunities for advancement? Lucky for all of us, today's research presentations and the ensuing discussion are aimed at shaping a better understanding of what we know, and about what we need to know, and how we can develop and support labor market opportunity pathways for all workers.
With that, I'm delighted to introduce our panelists and this afternoon's discussion. You can find their full bios on the conference website, and there's a button on your screen that'll take you there. First you will be hearing from Papia Debroy. Papia is a vice president of research at from Opportunity@Work and she will be presenting research on skills, degrees, and labor market inequality. Next, you will hear from Jessica Santos. Jessica is a researcher at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She will be presenting research on the racialized impacts of COVID-19 on essential workers' career pathways. Lastly, you will hear from Amanda Cage, the CEO and president of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. Amanda is also a member of WorkRise's leadership board. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to be here with her today. She will be reflecting on how this research could be used in policy and practice. I want to note that Amanda is also celebrating a birthday today. So I will close out my remarks by saying happy birthday, Amanda. And turn it over for you all to enjoy the presentations.
Papia Debroy: Hi everyone. My name is Papia Debroy. I lead the research work at the nonprofit organization Opportunity@Work. Together with my colleagues Peter Blair at Harvard University and Justin Heck at the University of Michigan, we've spent a lot of time this past year conducting research to understand workers without four-year college degrees. From a workforce perspective, our goal has been to understand opportunities to improve their economic mobility. We call these workers we've been focused on STARs, they are skilled through alternative routes. The first thing I would like to do is actually situate them in the context of the U.S. population.
What you see on the page here is that there is more than 320 million of us in the United States. About half of us are not active in the labor force. What you see on the right-hand side of the page is the distribution of workers who have been active in the past year. Sixty million workers have a four-year college degree or higher level of educational attainment. What you see on the purple, all the way on the right, is that there are more than 70 million workers who do not have a four-year college degree but do have a high school diploma. We call these workers STARs. The vast majority of them have skills to perform in higher-wage work. And they are situated in all regions of the country, and include all races, ethnicities, and gender. In fact, they come from many pools of talent that employers seek today.
How are STARs faring in the labor market? The wage difference between the four-year college degree and STARs in 1976 was 30 percent. STARs were earning 30 percent less than workers with a four-year college degree then. In 2019, that difference had grown significantly. They were earning 62 percent less in 2019. And we know 2020 was a terrible year for them. We've done more than 50 ethnographic interviews across the past few months to help us better understand the experiences, and what we are hearing in their stories is what we are seeing in the data. They've experienced the job losses of this year disproportionately. They've been our frontline and essential workers, disproportionately, and they've managed through this moment of crisis without much structural support. They know and we know from past recessions, this is the pool of workers that is going to have the hardest time getting back on their feet. We believe this work shows us that we have some choices to make about how we might bring STARs back into our labor market more equitably and fairly. So I'd love to talk a little bit about what we've learned.
To start, I want to give you a little bit of background. Before I get to the key findings of this paper, I want to introduce context from a paper we published last year that we built on. The key finding from that paper is that low wage does not mean a worker is low skill. The paper illustrates the concept you see on this page here. Let's say that you are a retail salesperson, you are required to bring persuasion, active listening, and speaking skills to your job every day. We compared the skills required of a retail salesperson to the hundreds of other occupations in the economy. And we developed a skills distance measure between two occupations, an origin job at a destination job, that pay different wages.
What we find is that there's actually a lot of similar pairings. There's a lot of origin-to-destination occupations that require similar skills. What we hypothesize in that paper is that workers have different trajectories to higher wages based on this learning. Segmentation on this page shows how. First, there are five million workers we term shining STARs. They earn twice the median wage in their region on average. So on average, about more than $78,000 a year. We also find that there are about 36 million forming STARs. These are workers who, based on the skills required of their current job, don't have the skills to transition to higher wages. What was interesting to us is what we see in this middle here. This middle group here, a group we call rising STARs. These are folks who do have the skills to make transitions to higher wages. In fact, many of them have the skills to transition to significantly higher wages.
What we accomplished in the paper here is to test this concept. We studied more than 130 million transitions that workers made between an origin job and a destination job between 2010 and 2019, and what we find in our paper is that there is a very high correlation between the skills of the worker required in their current job and the transitions they make to a destination job. The chart we see on the paper shows the correlations between those transitions and skill distance. We would expect from a valid measure of skill distance, that there would be a strong negative linear relationship between the log of the flow rate and the log of the skill distance. And we find exactly that. But one thing to understand that was depicted on the earlier slide is that, of the almost 80 million transitions that STARs made in this time period, a stunning 60 percent did not yield an increase in wages. You take that in for a second. When STARs transition to another job in the past decade, only 40 percent of the time did they move to a job that paid more.
So we wanted to understand, as researchers, do transitions to higher wages look the same way for STARs as they do for workers with a four-year degree? We separated transitions into groups, the upwardly mobile transitions reflect in were working to a job that pays at least 10 percent more, downwardly mobile transitions reflect a worker moving to jobs that pay 10 percent less.
Here we see a really interesting separation. On the left-hand side of the page, we see STARs experience transitions across both upwardly and downwardly mobile transitions similarly. Their skills predict where they go. What we see on the right-hand side of the page though is the separation. The workers don't experience those conditions similarly. In fact, workers with a four-year college degree or higher level of educational attainment are less constrained by their skills, and thus have many more opportunities than STARs. This inability to signal beyond skills in their current job is contributing to the inequality they experience. For our purposes of thinking about where there are some clues in this data to focus on, we do see that 40 percent of the time, STARs are making transitions to jobs that yielded mobility for them. In fact, we see there are about 300 occupations that yielded mobility for STARs in this time period. This suggests that STARs do achieve mobility, frequently with the skills they are gaining through alternative routes. But, we don't see them making these transitions the same way as workers with the four-year degree.
STARs are experiencing more friction in the labor market. And further, we find these transitions are not experienced the same way for all STARs. We see Black and Hispanic STARs are unable to make these transitions the same way as white STARs, and we find a similar story for women. When they are able to traverse those transitions, they earn less than their male counterparts. The data on the page here reflects the drop off in the proportionate workers across low-, middle-, and high-wage occupations. What we've discussed here reflects a lot of problems; certainly, these numbers are alarming. What's heartbreaking for us is what they have meant for real people.
You'll notice this quote on the page from Joann, a STAR in North Carolina. Hearing this quote the first time gave me chills, and it still gives me chills to read it for the hundredth time today. These stories, these incredible people are what is motivating us as researchers. We think this insight is critical for the workforce field and for employers. We know STARs have valuable skills. We know they experience mobility with those skills, just not in the volumes that represent their share of the workforce. With deliberation, we think there are opportunities to award these workers for their valuable skills and experiences by deliberately helping them move into middle- and high-wage jobs for which they do have the skills to do work. And I'm looking forward to the conversation with you all today. For now, it is my pleasure to pass the mic on to Jessica Santos.
Jessica Santos: Hi there, my name is Jessica Santos. I'm happy to be here on behalf of my team at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. The title of our talk is "The Racialized Impacts of COVID-19 on Essential Workers' Career Pathways." My co-authors are Eunjung Jee and Sylvia Stewart. We are looking at the long-term effects of COVID-19 on workers in both the labor market as a whole as well as the essential workforce, which is a fairly new construct that emerged in 2020 after COVID-19 hit and the ensuing economic crisis. We are also looking at the, how the underlying segregation and segmentation of the labor market effects different populations and has the potential to affect their ability to advance or not in the future.
So our research questions are how are the career pathways of essential workers, with an explicit focus on healthcare workers, affected by COVID-19? And, how do the effects of COVID-19 on career pathways differ by race and gender? So I will start by explaining the underlying patterns of segmentation and segregation in the labor market. This shows the labor market as a whole, and it shows us that, compared to white men and women, people of color are overrepresented in the essential workforce in addition to, in both the essential healthcare workforce and the essential nonhealthcare workforce. In particular, this chart also desegregates by race and gender to point out that, for example, Black women are disproportionately overrepresented in healthcare, and Hispanic men are disproportionately overrepresented in the essential workforce in nonhealthcare positions. As you can see here, this is looking at similar patterns but just for women with different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and again, comparing the essential workforce, healthcare, the essential workforce nonhealthcare with nonessential workers. So as you can see here within healthcare, again, Black women are disproportionately overrepresented with a representation ratio of almost two. All women are overrepresented in healthcare because it is a predominantly female sector.
And then, looking at the essential workforce that is not healthcare, we see white and Asian women being the least represented. So when we think about who is putting their lives on the line or risking their own health for the safety and health of the rest of us, we can see that we are talking about disproportionately workers of color. This chart, which I will explain the categorization of in a minute, shows just within the healthcare sector, how four different segments break down from the least quality, lowest quality job to a highest-quality job. The lowest quality jobs show underrepresentation of white and Asian men. This is just men. And then overrepresentation of Hispanic, Black, and other men. In contrast, the highest quality jobs, which is the last primary internal column, show an overrepresentation of white and Asian men, and the exact opposite, an underrepresentation of men of color. These four labor market segments are theoretically derived from [inaudible], who worked with ... idea of a dual or segmented labor market, to distinguish between primary and secondary jobs, which are distinguished by wages, conditions, and benefits. And then internal and external jobs, which are distinguished by their role within the employer institution, internal being more essential to the employer and having good opportunities for advancement, and external jobs being less essential to the functioning of the employment organization and fewer opportunities for advancement. So in healthcare, this looks like physicians and nurses in the primary internal segment, and in the lowest quality jobs, home health aides, food prep workers, etc.
As we see, this is the distribution of the entire workforce in healthcare, segment going from lowest quality to highest-quality jobs. Again, you can see that Black and Hispanic men and women are significantly overrepresented in the lowest quality jobs, and white and Asian men and women are overrepresented in the highest quality jobs. Now what does this mean for the effects of the pandemic on career pathways. Those underlying segmentation patterns already make it difficult for people to move from the lowest-quality jobs into the highest-quality occupations. One of the most important pieces of [inaudible]work was to show how the segments are impermeable or difficult to move between. And so what we are also seeing is different patterns of unemployment within the segments.
Finally, we will look within healthcare at the segments that I described. And this graph confirms the theory that the external segments, the primary external and the secondary external, have the fewest opportunities for advancement and are the most vulnerable within the sector, the least essential because they are the ones that have the highest rates of unemployment. Finally, how does this all connect to career pathways? If we think about career of pathways over the life course, a person has a bunch of different movements in and out of jobs, in and out of employment, and COVID-19 is going to have, you know, the career pathways of many workers will be affected by COVID-19, both in terms of potentially lost wages, or lost jobs. Economic shocks like this made it more difficult for people to recover once they have been unemployed than unemployed people in not in times of recession. So here, you can see, this is the entire white healthcare workforce. And you can see that white workers started predominantly in the primary internal, the highest quality jobs and stayed there throughout 2020. Other people who started in other segments also moved into those higher-quality jobs. So white workers actually have a fascinating story in healthcare of advancing during the pandemic. In contrast, this is Black healthcare workers. Many, the majority started within the secondary external, the lowest quality segment of the workforce, and stayed there. Many also started in the primary internal, the highest-quality, and stayed. What's interesting, fewer moved into those higher-quality jobs during 2020 than we saw with the white workforce.
So our overall analysis shows that we see different stories for career pathways and for the potential economic longterm economic stability and mobility effects of COVID-19 on the essential workforce and on the healthcare workforce. With the implications being that we know that COVID-19 has exposed and is growing the inequities that we have in our society and in our labor markets, and that it's going to be critical for policymakers to consider career pathways and racial equity in their plans for recovery. So, thank you very much, and I'm going to pass this to Amanda Cage.
Amanda Cage: Thank you, Jessica. I'm Amanda Cage, CEO of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. Elisabeth, thank you for the birthday wishes. It is also Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chair's, birthday today. So from one Aquarius to another, happy birthday to you, Chair Powell. Thank you to Papia and Jessica for your research. I look forward to our discussion. What struck me about both of the presentations is that our customary culture nomenclature for discussing groups of workers is expanding as we start to investigate the unique experiences of workers who have historically been invisible. I am a big fan of Opportunity@Work for bringing light to STARs, people who are skilled through alternative routes.
When I sit in spaces like this, filled with academics, researchers, policy analysts, and practitioners, I'm acutely aware of how the experiences of decisionmakers vastly differs from peoples whose fates we are discussing. The bifurcation of a bachelor's degree, versus no bachelor's degree, is a crude and clumsy distinction that ignores the reality of the majority of workers in this country. And yet it remains our default measuring stick. Workers without a college degree are a diverse crew. They have attended community colleges, served in the military, are entrepreneurs. They are aircraft mechanics and dispatchers, legal secretaries and HR professionals, machinists and welders, paramedics, and patient technicians. All those lab technicians processing COVID tests, they are likely STARs. We have entire industries that are indifferent to college degrees. Hospitality, construction, information technology—they don't care if you have a college degree. They know that a credential and on-the-job training is enough.
Yet as we see through Papia's research, for many of these workers, the labor market seems like a gigantic game of chutes and ladders. You pick a card, sometimes you go up, sometimes you go down; it's a game of chance. A year ago, essential workers was a meaningless term. Yet today, elected leaders spend a lot of their time trying to define what workers are essential. A debate that began with the global pandemic and national shutdown and continues as we decide how to distribute vaccines. For our essential workers, as Jessica pointed out, women make up the majority of essential workers and healthcare, 76 percent. People of color make up half of the essential workers in food and agriculture. Nearly 70 percent of essential workers don't have a college degree. Our most important essential jobs are often the lowest paid, including the cleaners, who in the early days of the pandemic were our first defense against the virus.
By November, COVID had claimed the lives of more than 100,000 long-term care facility residents and staff. And yet, nursing home attendants continue to make a pittance while working in conditions that put them at high risk for infection and death. And any adult who has suddenly become responsible for a child 24-7 can tell you, childcare workers are worth their weight in gold. Yet their paychecks do not reflect that. Is my inkling that assumptions and bias have a lot to do with how we see and treat STARs and essential workers. It harms the workers who are able to reap the rewards of their work, and it harms employers who aren't able to harness this diverse talent. We have a set of choices to make about how we recover. I want to invite Papia, along with her coauthor, Peter and Jessica, along with Sylvia and Eunjung to the stage for us to start this conversation. Welcome back, everybody.
Debroy: Hi, Amanda. Nice to see all of you today.
Cage: So I want to start with you, Papia. You made the comment to me that low wages does not equal low skills. And we have the math to prove it. Can you talk a little bit about the group you call rising STARs and about the concept of gateway jobs?
Debroy: Sure, I'm happy to take that question. It's really interesting because one of the analyses we did this year was actually trying to understand how the skills of a worker as they've gained through their work experience map to other occupations in the labor market. And what we found was, there are more than 30 million workers that we term rising STARs. These are individuals who come in based on the skills required of their current job, actually have the skills to make transitions to other occupations in their region where they could earn on average more than 70 percent more than they are currently earning today.
What we find through our qualitative work is that workers are frequently experiencing barriers to actually achieving those opportunities, right? While they may have the skills, frequently, the jobs that they do have the skills to do will require a degree and there are plenty of other barriers that STARs reference as well. What's interesting to us about this concept of the gateway job that you referenced, Amanda, is this idea that there are several dozen occupations in the labor market today where if a worker were to get access to that gateway job, they have opportunities to move to more higher- wage opportunities as well. The gateway jobs provide a set of skills through work experience that allow them to actually experience transitions into even higher wage opportunities. To us, that was a really interesting finding. As we start to think about pathways for workers out of low-wage into middle and high-wage occupations, these are jobs that build those skills that allow the worker to experience mobility over time.
Cage: Thank you, Papia. I have a question for, and I want to offer any of the researchers who worked on the paper to understand any of these questions. Jessica, you make a distinction in your analysis between low-quality and high-quality jobs and healthcare. How do you define low and high quality? And what would it take for somebody to move from a low-quality job to a high-quality job?
Santos: Thank you, Amanda. Is an honor to be here, especially talking to like-minded researchers on a topic that we spend so much time thinking about. It's just exciting to see on the national agenda. I would say that
for the paper I presented today, we borrowed from an existing framework, by ... that disaggregates any specific sector into four segments. So it's along two different axes, internal and external, which distinguishes between how essential an occupation is to that firm and primary and secondary, which borrows from [inaudible] theory of labor market segmentation, looking at the primary labor market and the secondary labor market, basically the wages, benefits, and advancement opportunities. So creating that 2x2 structure, we were able to code the healthcare market into those four segments, and then analyze the ways that the pathways differed for each segment. And so, what does it take for somebody in a lower quality job, which, you know, in this model, it is considered a secondary external job and in healthcare specifically, it is looking at a lot of the folks that you mentioned, Amanda.
The people who are putting their lives on the line, home healthcare workers, in addition to people working in food service within hospitals or even housekeeping and maintenance. What would it take for them to move into a middle-quality or higher-quality job? I wish we knew the answer to that. I think we are still trying to figure it out. I think that what we are finding in our research is that people are making micro advancements, we are calling them because they are sort of small advancements, either within that same segment into a slightly higher quality job; for example, the schedule is better for their family situation or it is a shorter commute. But that doesn't get them out of the segment into a much higher quality job. So I would say, we need to solve that question for policy and in terms of an equitable recovery going forward, and I wish I had the answer.
Cage: So I have another question, then I'm going to open it up to questions from the audience. So please make sure you are putting your questions into that Slido. This is a question for both of you. You both talked about how the experience was different for white workers than it was for workers of color, even though they were sort of in the same category. I really want to dig into that. Walk us through what those differences were and what do you think we can do about that?
Santos: Sylvia, do you want to take this one?
Stewart: Yes, I can take this one. So we saw higher rates of and implement for Black women as well as lower pay through the pandemic. And actually, let me pass this to Eunjung, our quant person to speak about the exact differences. Eunjung, would you take over?
Jee: My Internet connection was bad for a few minutes. So I missed the question almost entirely. I'm so sorry. Could you repeat the question again?
Cage: Sure, we are talking about the difference in experience for white workers and for workers of color. And I think specifically, and Jessica, you talked about how white workers in particular, advanced. During this time, they made advancements. What is the difference between the experience for workers of color and white workers? And what, you know, I'm sure the research didn't show you exactly what to do about that, but given the work that you've done, what do you think we could do to intervene in that situation?
Jee: So, using our data panel, the data we constructed using the monthly CPS data, we found that there are very significant, there are significant differences in by race in career movements in 2019 and 2020. We have seen more upward mobility within the healthcare sector for white workers whereas Black workers were more likely to move into nonhealthcare jobs or even unemployment from the most prestigious of jobs in the healthcare sector. So we cannot, as Jessica described briefly, we cannot know the answer yet. We do not know the causes. But I believe that it is very important to incorporate racial equity in the analysis of the impacts of COVID on essential workers, and in developing solutions, finding multiethnic solutions to this stagnant career pathways of workers here.
Cage: Papia, I will turn it over to you and Peter because I know you have something to say about this.
Debroy: Yeah, sure. Our analysis, and we studied transitions that workers are making in the labor market, and we find that access to transitions that lead to mobility are experienced differently for Black workers, for Hispanic workers, and for women workers. It is interesting. You know, we've been starting to have conversations with employers, to get to the second part of your question around what do we do about this. And it is interesting to reflect on some of the themes we are starting this year as actions that our employer led in communities to try to actually address the systemic barriers that are very clearly showing up in pretty much all of our analyses.
The first action that we point to in our work is that employers can make choices today, based on the jobs and the skills of the workers in their own businesses. So if you are an employer, for instance, with a high volume of STARs in low-wage jobs, there is value in starting to understand their skills and relation, not just to the other jobs you have in your own company, but jobs that exist in your broader, local labor market, right? So how can we start to think about pathways for workers, not just within but also outside? There is a recognition that we need to make that few workers are going to spend their entire career at one company; it requires that employers are going to start to think about partnerships with other companies across their ecosystems, and that we are starting to think about career journeys across companies and industries. This requires, right, that employers are collaborating with workforce entities, that there is better communication and coordination across employment agencies, local nonprofits, and many, many others, right, who are supporting STARs in their journey.
I think another part that has been really interesting in our conversation with employers is the fact that mobility has become a key part of an employee value proposition for companies now. You know, we've been thinking a lot as companies for a long time, about how learning and growth is critical to keeping your best employees at your company. Mobility has now become a part of that conversation. So there is something, too, about companies starting to actually audit the educational attainment of their own workers, understand what the racial and gender makeup of their own workforce looks like, and then starting to set some targets, right? What would it look like for us to see better outcomes for our own workplace? How can we start to make mobility of our workers part of our goal, and I think in doing so, we can start to see more pathways to higher-paying jobs across an entire ecosystem. What that eventually allows a company to do is communicate that value proposition really effectively to their workers and their workforce.
Cage: Jessica, did you want to chime in?
Santos: Yeah, I would love to reinforce the idea of a cross-institutional sort of system advancement model; that's come out as well from our research specifically looking at healthcare, how there is a win-win in it if people can collectively invest. So for any one firm, or any one institution to invest in every single workers' advancement feels overwhelming and hard to manage. And increasingly, as employers become more aware of their own, you know, of these dynamics, truly, the sort of racist dynamics and the forms of segregation and segmentation within their own workforce, they are starting to question, what can we do about it? They can't do the same thing for every single worker, but they can fill spots in the holes in their labor market, so by doing analysis of their own labor market, as well as the regional or community level labor market, and as Papia was pointing out, sort of investing in pipelines rather than just individuals that they are going to retain. You're building out an entire sector in a community collectively; that's a very different model than the individualistic [message that] it's your job to get the skills and just move up.
The last thing I'll say, I would say there needs to be increasingly strong narrative change in the field about what it takes to get ahead and how people really do get ahead so that employers and workers alike aren't putting all of the emphasis and sort of burden on individuals to go back to school, get more training and assume that they will be able to move up in equitable ways because we know that is not the case. I would say institutional change, investment in institutional change, and organizations doing their own D&I work at this stage is actually part of the career advancement of equity model.
Cage: Great. I'm going to put out my first question from the audience. And this is for anybody. How can we do a better job measuring the long-term effects of career pathways? What counterfactual should we use? That's a question for researchers, counterfactual.
Santos: I love that question, actually, we sit around and just say, we need better data, we need better data. I would say the counterfactual is today, because we aren't seeing the advancements that we want, like this is the ... I would say that we need to build a data system and some pilots, some demonstrations, to really test out the ability that we were just talking about for kind of communities and specific labor markets, both locally and by sector, to really invest in a more robust and more equitable workforce, and then build a data system out that would track the outcomes because the counterfactual is nobody is advancing except for the people who already have the existing privilege.
The other, last point I want to make sure to make today is, we have seen the same mechanisms in the system that prevent low-wage workers and workers of color from advancing are the mechanisms that enable higher, you know, people in higher-quality jobs, and white men and women to advance. So it's not that the mechanisms themselves are, for example, networks. You know? Speaking about networks. Everybody has networks, but it's the value of where those networks are in positions of power, whether they actually help you advance or not. So it's not the mechanisms necessarily that need to change, it's the analysis of how they are used within the system to advance equity.
Cage: Great. Peter, you look like you want to get in on that.
Blair: Happy birthday again, Amanda, great to be here with all of you. I just want to add another; my counterfactual is a little bit different from the question that was posed in the following way. We know the bachelor's degree has provided a really clear path to the middle class for very long time. And our counterfactual is to think about the job placements as really a place in which you can like both learn and earn. Let me give you one of my favorite examples. If you were to go to law school, or even be a professor, a lot of the things that you need to learn in order to be a professor, for example, we don't learn in graduate school. Right? Like I had to learn how to teach classes once I got my PhD and got the opportunity to be an assistant professor. There's so much learning that happens on the job.
So I think one counterfactual is going to be really important is when we think about reimagining the places where we earned our jobs is also places where we learn through doing, then we can start to reimagine providing workers who don't have bachelor's degrees or STARs the opportunity to learn and to earn. We can remove requirements that are unnecessary because not only are they blocking you from the ability to earn today, but they are also blocking you from the ability to continue to learn in ways that can enable you to earn more going forward. So we want to think about workplaces ... places of learning. Some of that learning is going to be experiential through the actual doing. Some of that learning is also going to happen due to the fact that companies will be taking intentional steps to train workers who are STARs in the same way that companies take very intentional steps to take workers who already have bachelor's degrees.
Cage: Great. The next question. What makes those lower-level jobs so sticky? What can the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act or those of us who are in the workforce field call WIOA, do to support career advancement, particularly for those in those sticky, low-wage jobs?
Santos: I would love to see WIOA support a much wider range of educational and credentialing opportunities than what is typically offered in communities, including, you know, English as a second language, braided into some vocational training, and for example, you know, GED braided into apprenticeship or tech opportunities, rather than kind of being limited to what is locally available on traditional tracks. So, I would say diversifying the options for WIOA to fund the sort of, the model we are talking about, you know, the model of incremental advancements into those gateway jobs.
Cage: And there is a specific follow-up to that. And I think this is a good question for Papia and Peter. Should WIOA funding be focused more on training needed for gateway jobs, than, rather than simply high-priority occupations?
Debroy: Yeah, it's a really important and good question. And I think one of the things to think about with respect to how we are starting to build pathways out of low-wage work is first understanding what skills folks are building in those lower wage jobs, because it's not the case that everyone in a low-wage job actually needs a lot of training to make a transition to a higher-wage occupation. In fact, our analysis of the transitions that workers are making suggest that skills are the currency that they are using to make transitions into higher wages. There are some transitions where the skills overlap is actually very, very high between low-wage and middle-wage jobs.
The first is let's just share that information with actors in a workforce ecosystem to help them know where those opportunities actually exist to move workers out of low-wage opportunities. But further from that, you know, I think there is an approach, so I think WIOA, Jessica, to your point, there's huge gaps, right, in how folks have access and get access to funding dollars to support their training efforts, and you know, I think overwhelmingly, we see this group being overlooked, right? We have a lot of funding opportunities tied to the lower ends and to the higher ends of our educational attainment distribution, but there's a lot of folks in the middle who could really benefit from policy shifts that would support them in their training efforts.
That being said, I think it's really interesting to start to think about new-to-world jobs, right? Because there are gateway jobs that, you know, produce a lot of ways for folks to think about the pathways they could take in the labor market. But what's been interesting, and this is true if you look at economic history, there are frequently proliferations of new jobs that enter the labor market after a moment of crisis, so for instance last year, I don't think anyone in February of 2020 was thinking the contact tracer job would be one that we thought about with as much frequency as we did last year. There's something now about starting to think about how we design these new-to-world jobs, with our workforce in mind, right? So what does it mean for us to understand the skills of the workers in relation to the way we are designing the jobs? And how we think about what training looks like when someone actually achieves that position. Right? So if someone is, you know, 75 percent doing customer service work and 25 percent doing a new-to- world set of activities in a role, what is it like for us to now design that job with the STAR in mind, sourcing from a specific set of occupations in the labor market and allowing for those workers to achieve mobility. I think there are different ways of approaching some of these problems that would allow us to achieve more equitable outcomes.
Cage: All right, so the next question. Career pathways tend to focus on credentials and not enough on performance in the job. Do you think there should be greater focus on performance on the job as opposed to credentials?
Debroy: Peter, I'm happy to jump in here. You know, we start with this premise that has been just so foundational to a lot of our research that we've been doing across the past year, which is that work experience, and I think the poll we had earlier shows this as well, We learn a lot on the job, and we learn from our managers and our peers. Having access to the opportunity to do that learning, really does, you know, open up many pathways for folks. So we certainly believe there are ways for us to start to think about giving credit to skills earned both through markers like credentials but also through work experience and on-the-job learning.
Blair: Yeah, I just want to plus one with what Papia said and add another dimension to it, thinking about, like what are the different pathways in which you can actually earn those credentials. Take for example, a computer programmer. There was a time in the 1990s where you had to go to Stanford or MIT or a school that had an amazing computer science program in order for you to get not just the human capital of like what you learned in the classroom but also the university credential to get a job out of Google or Microsoft or Facebook. And now you have coding academies that are opening up that have income-sharing agreements that six to nine months, so the time period is a lot shorter in terms of providing those with those credentials. I was reading an article a few days ago, where there was a particular prison program that was training folks who were incarcerated how to code. And in a way, like democratizing the way in which people access these credentials and then layering that on with a more performance-based metric.
The last thing I will say focusing on this example of coding is having skills-based assessments that complement the hiring process. For example, if I'm coming to apply for a job, is there some way for you to create a skills-based assessment whereby I can be measured based on my skills, and not just based on my degrees?
Cage: Another question from the audience, related to multisector, multicollaboration and investment. How do we shape the incentives that will make employers partner more, and in better ways with the government? That's a great question.
Santos: I do think some of it is historical as well, thinking about Peter's example, it's like how has this evolved? Thinking about again, healthcare, looking back, it was a partnership. And when we trained the most nurses in the country it was institutions of the higher ed partnering directly with hospitals to provide clinical placements and opportunities for on-site, on-the-job learning. I do think that there are some intrinsic benefits for employers who see retention as a real challenge, especially in that sort of low- to mid-advancement moment in the career pathway.
For them to get in the game, we are talking to people now who are interested in really developing some pilots, but to have the government incentives also be flexible enough. So for example, there are apprenticeship opportunities, there's funds for apprenticeships, there's funds for on-the-job training, but there aren't too many funds for just flexible, employer sort of led, like employers need even more flexibility to design it so that it works for them in partnership with government, in partnership with education training programs. I think it's not a one-size-fits-all model. It's going to be sector and potentially even institution specific. But then it can scale from there. It has to grow from like small to big at this stage, I think.
Debroy: I will say, I think there has been a lot of, a lot of movement in the right direction, especially in this past year, and I actually think a lot of them are incentives to, you know, drive inclusion in a different way in their communities at this moment in time. I think a lot of them are struggling with the how. And I think one of the important things to understand in a community context is the worker achieving mobility is absolutely a function of, you know, the employer making a choice to bring a worker in, and support them in their career pathway within their own company, but there are a lot of community actors that make it possible for a worker to achieve that mobility, right? They have to have access to transportation networks; they need access to childcare. They need access to, you know, continuous learning through their career, and many, many other community groups that they might be a part of play a role in helping the worker achieve that mobility. There's something now about helping each of these actors understand their role in driving the mobility of the worker into this, you know, middle- or high-wage occupation. And that ultimately is at the intersection of a lot of different, you know, social dynamics within a community. I think one of the things that is so exciting about this conference and this moment in time is we do need research across disciplines to help us better understand how we get to those intersections so that the STAR can achieve mobility. I think we are at the beginning stages of that journey, but I do think a lot of folks are incented in the right ways already; we are just trying to figure out how to collaborate with each other more effectively to achieve that common outcome.
Cage: So thank you for mentioning all of the sort of different factors and the community players. The next question, there is a follow-up somebody asked. Employers are profit maximizers. What are the economic benefits for the employer, in promoting worker mobility? And as a practitioner, I will add a little example to this. We hear all the time from employers, why would I want, I don't want to lose my employee, right? I don't want to lose them; why would I help them move to something else when I like them right here doing what they are doing right now? So, how do you do if that dynamic, when an employer may even be resistant or maybe even a little hostile to sort of the worker mobility piece? I'm sure there are some levels of that in healthcare as an industry but in other industries as well.
Blair: I will jump in there. I think that is definitely something employers can be so concerned about, especially small employers where the margins are small to begin with. Something that is important to take in mind is the fact that like each individual employer is part of a larger ecosystem of other companies. When you think about Silicon Valley, for example, one of the reasons why that is a huge hub is because it is such a thick labor market. If I decide to move there for a job at Apple as a computer programmer or coder, if something happens and Apple goes belly up or what have you, I can move to another company because the market there is so thick.
So in many ways, we should think about your competitors as competitors but they are also potential sources of labor. So as you are training labor for someone else, they are also training labor for you as well. So there are these sort of positive reciprocal relationships that are happening as opposed to it being just purely kind of like a zero- sum gain. So I think that something that's really important to think about, that you are a part of this broader ecosystem that's training talent not just for yourself but over people. And they are also training talent not just for themselves but also for you too.
Stewart: I can jump in on the healthcare peace. So in healthcare, turnover is actually extremely expensive. It's really hard on a company's bottom line, so encouraging businesses to integrate advancement curriculum, and that kind of promotion within an organization can be really, really a good talking point to speak with them about but also a really good motivator. Another promising thing that we have explored is integrating advancement-based curriculum in workplaces so that folks can enter in the entry level, but then feel those, fill those high-need midtier jobs that folks have the skills to do but they might need the credentialization, they may need to overcome a few barriers. If the employer can help that, it's kind of a win-win for the worker and the organization.
Cage: So this is the last question, and it's a biggie. How can we work against racial inequity, to support outcomes for Black workers and other workers of color within the industries we are a part of?
Santos: I will start. I'm sure everyone has something to say about this. I think it's an incredible moment in time that we are in, and it's an opportunity. A lot of public awareness has come to, you know, this topic we've been looking at for many years. Diversity, equity, and inclusion has become a term and a job, actually, for many organizations, where they were never prioritizing that work before. But the change has to be integral to the functioning of the organization and the sector.
And so, I do think that it's a multilevel approach, understanding that, if leaders in a specific, you know, institution or sector, can take the first step and really analyze their own disparities, own the disparities—literally, say this is where we are at right now—being able to own reality of the moment, I don't think we have gotten even there yet in labor. I think the health equity field provides a really beautiful roadmap for this. In healthcare, there are many dimensions of equity work, right? Data collection, analysis, workforce diversity, the organizational change work, policies, etc. We need as comprehensive a model for labor equity work as the health equity field has for health. I think it could be both, again, bottom-up, learning what works in specific workplaces and sectors, but also from a policy perspective. So some carrots and sticks.
Debroy: I think there's a lot of value in us understanding what the distribution of our workforce looks like across occupations and race. Our analysis, Amanda, going back to your first question, on rising STARs and how we think about those workers, there are disproportionate number of Black rising STARs in our labor market today. These are folks who have the skills, to advance and aren't being given the opportunity to do so. Part of the reason for that is by putting a degree requirement on a job description, employers are automatically not seen more than 60 percent of Black workers in the United States. And so, there is some value first in ensuring that access is being given to the regulation of workers, and then there's a lot to be said for starting to recognize and value the skills of the workers in the occupations they are currently in and starting to think about what their pathways can look like to the next job. And I think, you know, that is a good place to start, right? It certainly not going to solve for everything, but just starting to understand and reward workers for the skills they've gained can go a long way in us making our first step, I think, in improving outcomes for this population of workers in the U.S.
Blair: And to build on what Papia said, we've really been engaged in this work foundationally, so we will all remember where we were on that day when we saw George Floyd being knelt on in the pavement. I think we all are going to remember that day. I certainly remember that day. And it really hit me as someone who studies race and racial inequality; it also hit me as a black man, too.
In that moment, we started to think about, what is it that we could do in these dual capacities as researchers and people who care about racial equity, and so along with one of our team members at Opportunity@Work ... we wrote an op-ed that was run by The Wall Street Journal, where in that moment, a lot of companies were saying, we are going to put X millions of dollars or billions of dollars to advance causes of racial equity and inclusion, and what we said is, there is something in addition to that that you can do that is internal to your company, which is to recognize as Papia was mentioning, that the degree requirements [for jobs that] you don't necessarily need a degree for artificially puts in a racial barrier. It's not race neutral, especially when we look at the long history of Black exclusion from the educational system in the United States, the antiliteracy laws which made it illegal for African Americans to learn or even to have whites teach them how to learn to read and write—that was illegal in the United States—to exclusionary policies that [meant] many universities did not admit African Americans. There is this long legacy of educational access being very difficult and very fraught. So we have to be very mindful when we put in a degree requirement that it really is necessary, because otherwise, something that on the surface looks race neutral actually has a disparately racial impact. So that's a really big place to start.
The second component, too, is that once you remove that degree screen, really seriously consider people based on their skills and abilities. But then also think how you can create within your organization, opportunities for like learning for development, for advancement, for really cultivating the skills of workers from all backgrounds, and particularly workers who historically have not been represented in many companies.
Cage: So I heard a call to action, so thank you very much to all of you for both the research you do, and for being here to talk about it today. Talking with smart people about hard issues is a great way to spend a birthday. So thank you all for celebrating with me. I will hand it over to Heidi to close us out for the day. Thank you.
Kaplan: Thanks, Amanda. Thank you, to everyone here. I also have a handful of thank yous to get out today. First and foremost, to the audience and all of you who joined us and engaged in the conversation today and this week. We really enjoyed working with you although virtually, and we look forward to more opportunities to engage with people outside our little circle on a regular basis. On behalf of the organizing committee, I also want to acknowledge and thank all of the researchers and speakers for sharing their time and their insights, again, today and all week. It was a lot of work for people that put together the presentations that you got to see, and I think it was worthwhile, and we really appreciate their time. As far as materials, we've gotten lots of questions about materials from this week's presentations. And I want to make sure you all know that the materials from today are available online right now, as we speak. But we will be updating our website soon, probably in the next week, to include all of the research papers that were presented this week, the presentation slides, and the videos from everything that we shared. In the meantime, there is a backdoor to some of this information, and if you click on the registration links that you used to initially to sign up for the sessions, there is an archive available with videos and presentations available there. We will be notifying you in the full update is available on the website with all the information.
So I have a few more thank yous. I worked with a wonderful team putting this together. I really want to thank every person that came to the table and contributed ideas and time and effort. You met much of my organizing team this week as they had hosting responsibilities. Stu Andreason hosted our first day on the state of labor market. Kyle Fee introduced Day two on alternative work. And Keith Wardrip hosted yesterday when we talked about education and credentials.