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it's time to choose Job Quality. Join us at the Job Quality Center of Excellence

Why Job Quality?

Job quality is essential to realizing the ideals of the American Dream, but today the US faces a job quality crisis: too many jobs are not quality jobs. Low-quality jobs harm a large and growing portion of the US workforce, and our economy, society, and aspirations as a country.

The Economic Opportunities Program draws on decades of engagement with organizations across the country that strive to connect people to opportunity. The desire to earn a living is a constant. We’ve interviewed a range of workers, job seekers, and aspiring entrepreneurs. Regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, from rural, urban, and suburban locales, young adults starting out and displaced workers seeking to build a new career, they are looking to earn a living. High quality jobs, whether working for someone else or for yourself, makes a meaningful difference in a person’s life.

In 2017, the Aspen Institute Job Quality Fellows described the importance of job quality as follows:

"A quality job means one’s work is valued and respected and meaningfully contributes to the goals of the organization. It encompasses having a voice in one’s workplace and the opportunity to shape one’s work life, as well as having accessible opportunities to learn and grow. Quality work affords an individual the opportunity to save, to build the security and confidence that allows one to plan for the future, and to participate in the life of and see oneself as a valued member of a community."

Too many working people have poor quality jobs. Brookings Institute reports that 44% of workers, more than 53 million people, earn low hourly wages. Researchers at Gallup find that only 40% of Americans believe that they have a good job.

Low quality jobs are unhealthy for individuals and society. People in low-quality jobs endure financial stress, ill health, and social stigma. Low-quality jobs exacerbate social and economic inequities across race, ethnicity, and gender. Because of structural discrimination and occupational segregation, women, immigrants, and workers of color are disproportionately employed in low quality jobs.

Low quality jobs can hinder economic growth and strain public budgets. Low quality jobs may be designed to minimize labor cost for an individual business and accommodate high turnover. Such jobs limit the purchasing power of a large segment of consumers, reducing the strength of the economy as a whole. They also strain public resources as a growing segment of workers relies on a variety of means-tested benefits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, and subsidized school meals, just to get by.

In contrast, good quality jobs invest in human capability, boost productivity, and provide workers with the resources to express their wants in the market in the form of consumer demand without having to rely on means-tested benefits.

The ideals of America as the Land of Opportunity is undermined by the reality of millions of who work hard, play by the rules, but can barely get by — never mind get ahead. It doesn’t have to stay this way. The time for improving job quality is now. For too long too much went to “fixing workers.” Now is the time to “fix work.” Job quality is shaped by human decisions — by policy and business choices, by social norms and social programs, by what we do individually and what we do in association with others.

In response to the job quality crisis, we have launched the Job Quality Center of Excellence. This new platform aims to drive improved job quality and economic dignity for workers through deep stakeholder engagement, idea generation, and resource sharing to help equip leaders across sectors and at all levels to act.

What you’ll find on this platform:

  • Examples and exemplars: Profiles of individuals and organizations who are innovating to improve job quality.
  • Practical tools: Resources and guides geared to a variety of contexts to improve the quality of jobs in their own organization and to encourage improved job quality in others.
  • Inclusive conversations: Public and private dialogue engaging diverse perspectives, experiences, and expertise to understand issues, explore ideas, and encourage action.
  • Research and resources: Publications exploring promising policy ideas, evaluations of innovative programmatic practices, information about job quality concepts, metrics and trends, and more.

Watch our video:

The Center draws on our work as well as the efforts of many others. We don’t have all the answers in the Center, but we are sharing ideas and innovations. To improve job quality, we need to shift thinking as well as behavior. We need to do things differently, and we must think differently and ask new questions. Please turn to the Center for information and ideas, but also as a forum for sharing fresh approaches. If you have tools, resources, or ideas to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us at eop.program@aspeninstitute.org.

To add your voice to the conversation on the urgency of improving job quality, we encourage you join our social media campaign below.

Join us on social media!

Click the buttons below to share the Job Quality Center of Excellence on LinkedIn or Facebook, or click the sample tweets and images to share on Twitter.

Check out a new platform from @AspenWorkforce: The #JobQuality Center of Excellence, a resource to advance the principles, policies, and practices that improve the experience of work: as.pn/jobqualitycenter.

The @AspenInstitute Economic Opportunities Program just launched the Job Quality Center of Excellence, a new platform to drive improved #jobquality and economic dignity for workers. Check it out here: as.pn/jobqualitycenter.

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To address the #jobquality crisis, the @AspenInstitute’s Economic Opportunities Program launched the Job Quality Center of Excellence, an online platform with resources to help cross-sector leaders tackle urgent workforce challenges: as.pn/jobqualitycenter

Click here to download this image. Suggested alt text for social media: Promotional image for the Aspen Institute’s Job Quality Center of Excellence. It shows the words “Quality Job” in the format of a dictionary entry. The pronunciation “/kwäledē/jäb/” is listed, followed by the word “noun.” Below, the text reads “A job that contains a living wage, basic benefits, career-building opportunities, wealth-building opportunities, and a fair and engaging workplace.” At bottom is the logo of the Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program with the words “Visit the Job Quality Center of Excellence” and the link as.pn/jobqualitycenter.

Employers, advocates, policymakers, and funders all play a role in affecting #jobquality. Visit the @AspenInstitute’s Job Quality Center of Excellence for tools, approaches, and research to advance economic dignity for workers: as.pn/jobqualitycenter

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To reach #jobquality goals, we must tackle structural bias and occupational segregation that harms workers of color and women. The new Job Quality Center of Excellence by @AspenWorkforce shifts focus “fixing workers” to fixing work. as.pn/jobqualitycenter

This is a once-in-a-generation chance to improve #jobquality and advance #diversity and #inclusion. The new Job Quality Center of Excellence by @AspenWorkforce will help tackle the opportunities to “fix work, not workers.” as.pn/jobqualitycenter

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Click here to download this image. Suggested alt text for social media: Promotional image for the Aspen Institute’s Job Quality Center of Excellence. It features drawings of workers of different trades and backgrounds. The text on top reads, “Job quality is poor for millions because the work of women and people of color is devalued. It’s time to address equity and inclusion for all workers.” At bottom is the logo of the Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program with the words “Visit the Job Quality Center of Excellence” and the link as.pn/jobqualitycenter.

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If you’re scratching your head about labor shortages and the #GreatResignation, it’s probably time to examine #JobQuality. The Job Quality Center of Excellence from @AspenInstitute EOP helps explain why change is needed—and how we can act: as.pn/jobqualitycenter.

Click here to download this image. Suggested alt text for social media: Promotional image for the Aspen Institute’s Job Quality Center of Excellence. It features an illustration of a door key and the text: “Did you know? Workers earning minimum wage can’t afford rent anywhere in the US (according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition). We can do better. It’s time to improve job quality.” At bottom is the logo of the Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program with the words “Visit the Job Quality Center of Excellence” and the link as.pn/jobqualitycenter.

According to @BrookingsInst, 53M US workers earn low wages. That’s why @AspenWorkforce launched the Job Quality Center of Excellence, a platform to advance #jobquality through engagement, idea generation, and resource sharing. Learn more: as.pn/jobqualitycenter

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Why #jobquality? Because work isn’t working for far too many people. Watch: https://youtu.be/jtetxVR7BVE

Workers deserve good #jobquality. Watch and learn about America’s job quality crisis, then visit the new Job Quality Center of Excellence (as.pn/jobqualitycenter) to access tools and resources to address the need for better quality jobs. https://youtu.be/jtetxVR7BVE

Low #jobquality disproportionately affects women, immigrants, and workers of color. This worsens occupational segregation and inequities in income, wealth, and benefits. https://youtu.be/jtetxVR7BVE

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Click here to download this image. Suggested alt text for social media: Promotional image for the Aspen Institute’s Job Quality Center of Excellence. It reads “Workers Deserve: Steady wages sufficient to cover basic living expenses; working conditions that are safe, responsive, and free from discrimination and harassment; stable, predictable, and humane work hours; benefits that facilitate health and stability — affordable health insurance, paid sick and vacation time, retirement plan, and more.” At bottom is the logo of the Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program with the words “Visit the Job Quality Center of Excellence” and the link as.pn/jobqualitycenter.

If you have tools, resources, or ideas to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us at eop.program@aspeninstitute.org.