ECI map

A variety of economic forces—most prominently, globalization and automation—have reduced the availability of middle-class jobs. This has contributed to a stagnation in real wages and a decline in upward mobility for millions of workers, particularly those without a college degree.

Led by Brookings Fellow Greg Wright—and founded by former Brookings Senior Fellow Marcela Escobari in 2018—the Workforce of the Future initiative produces research and online tools to diagnose and counter these trends.

At the core of the initiative is a body of research that uncovers local economic growth strategies to create high-wage jobs in fast-growing sectors of the economy. The research—most recently described in the initiative’s 2021 report, Moving Up—puts a spotlight on who is falling behind, where, and by how much. It also identifies career pathways that should be expanded to improve economic opportunity for those being left behind.

This research informs the initiative’s Smart Growth Cities tool, an online tool that helps local economic development officials choose a successful growth strategy and provides a detailed analysis of the workforce implications of that strategy.