Helping Americans work more and gain skills for higher-paying jobs is vital for boosting mobility


Improving the labor market and encouraging work are central to our goals of achieving greater responsibility and opportunity in America. The private economy is the arena where most Americans work hard to realize their dreams.

But employment today is failing to achieve the promise it did a few decades ago. Wages of unskilled workers have been fairly stagnant in real terms (especially among men) and have fallen relative to those of more-educated workers; and some groups of Americans (like less-educated men generally and black men, specifically) are working considerably less than they once did.

Stagnant wages and low work participation among some groups of workers are blocking progress. Both must be addressed.

In Chapter 4 of a new report from the AEI-Brookings Working Group on Poverty and Opportunity, the Working Group recommends policies that:

  1. Expand opportunities for the disadvantaged by improving their skills;
  2. Make work pay better than it does now for the less educated;
  3. Expand both work requirements and opportunities for the hard-to-employ while maintaining an effective work-based safety net for the most vulnerable members of our society, especially children; and
  4. Make more jobs available.