Blog PostMarch 31, 2017

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s Fight for $50

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen seems to be an unofficial ambassador for the Job Creators Network’s Fight for $50 campaign that calls on policymakers to fight to raise the wage ceiling for average Americans, not the wage floor.

In her speech before the National Community Reinvestment Coalition this week, she highlighted numerous priorities to expand opportunities, jobs, and wages for Americans overlooked by the economic recovery – all of which JCN shares.

Highlights are excerpted below:

1) Entry-level jobs.

It is crucial for younger workers to establish a solid connection to employment early in their work lives. The Federal Reserve’s 2013 Survey of Young Workers found that 18- to 30-year-olds with early work experience were more likely to emerge from the recent recession with a permanent job. Other studies have found that students who worked 20 hours per week in their senior year of high school earned higher wages later in life than those who did not, and that summer youth employment programs improved participants’ attitudes toward their communities, raised their academic aspirations, and boosted their job readiness skills.

2) Education & training.

Probably the most important workforce development strategy is improving the quality of general education… But, unfortunately, for a wide variety of reasons that are beyond the scope of this talk, education levels have historically lagged in low- and moderate-income communities, particularly communities of color.

Career and technical education (CTE) programs… have been refined and has made a comeback as an effective way to help non-college-bound workers gain valuable skills and obtain a foothold in a labor market that increasingly requires technical proficiency. These programs teach the skills needed to pursue careers in fields such as construction, manufacturing, health care, information technology, hospitality, and financial services.

Apprenticeships, which are more common in other countries, could play a larger role for low- and moderate-income individuals in our country as part of broader career and technical education efforts.

3) Entrepreneurship and small businesses:

Promoting entrepreneurship could play a greater role in workforce development. Entrepreneurship is a fundamental strength of the American economy, and owning your own business or working for yourself can offer income, a means of building wealth, and, sometimes, greater flexibility for balancing job and family commitments. Yet we see less self-employment in low- and moderate-income communities…. These findings speak to the opportunities that could be realized by helping people start their own businesses and then helping them grow their businesses.

JCN encourages policymakers to heed Chair Yellen’s recommendations and help their constituents fight for $50,000 a year jobs by prioritizing entry-level jobs, education & training, and small businesses.