Quality Jobs: Moving Beyond Job Creation
While our economy is thriving on paper, most of us know that isn’t the whole story. Since the end of the Great Recession, almost 12 million jobs have been created. However, the strongest job growth has been in low-wage work, at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants. Average wages for working Americans have dropped 23 percent. And communities of color fare even worse.
Job quality has been a casualty of the economic recovery. In response to the financial crisis, many businesses cut back not only on jobs but also on worker benefits. As income inequality worsens, the need to secure better quality employment opportunities for American workers—especially in the small business sector, which provides an estimated 55 percent of all jobs in the U.S.—cannot be overstated.
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), given their two-decade track record of investing in and creating jobs within underserved communities, are uniquely positioned to address the troubling trend of rising wealth and income inequality by focusing on the creation of higher quality jobs. To begin to move our economy to one where quality jobs are the norm—not the exception—CDFIs must build consensus around a common definition of a quality job, undertake practical efforts to foster the creation of quality jobs, and measure results to understand what works.
In a first-of-its-kind discussion paper. Pacific Community Ventures seeks to answer two important questions: 1) What is a quality job, and 2) How can CDFIs measure job quality? Through extensive interviews and research, they’ve identified five key elements of a quality job and detailed how CDFIs and other impact investors can measure that while also working with business owners to implement improvements to job quality.