Richard V. Reeves, Morgan Welch, & Hannah Van Drie
Abstract: In this brief we examine work and work-based policies in Las Vegas, Nevada – a theme that emerged strongly from focus group data collected in the fall of 2019. The middle-class Americans we talked with were concerned about upward mobility, the changing landscape of work as a result of automation and skills training, scheduling uncertainty, and employee benefits like time off and paid leave. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted and exacerbated these pre-existing issues for many workers. Much of the policy agenda in the last year has been understandably reactionary, as policymakers addressed immediate issues such as unemployment insurance, keeping workers safe, and emergency economic relief. More than a year later, it’s helpful to return to the concerns that were bubbling to the surface in 2019 – and reflect on what’s left to do, structurally, to strengthen our system, support workers, and move forward from the pandemic. To this end, we suggest several policy solutions – such as raising the minimum wage, investing in workers’ skills and education, providing paid leave, and encouraging flexibility.
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