The following special reports look at the issues and challenges affecting low- and moderate-income people and communities.
Published by the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Cleveland and based on an analysis of tens of millions of online job advertisements in the 33 largest metro areas, this report finds a high degree of similarity between the skills employers seek when filling lower-wage jobs and the skills demanded for opportunity occupations, or occupations that do not typically require a bachelor’s degree and that pay above the national annual median wage (adjusted for local cost-of-living differences). For nearly half of the lower-wage employment analyzed, we identify at least one higher-paying occupation requiring similar skills in the same metro area. We also find that transitions to similar higher-paying occupations would represent an average annual increase in wages of nearly $15,000, or 49 percent. Paired with targeted training, hiring processes that recognize the portability of skills across occupations could not only promote economic mobility for lower-wage workers but also help meet the talent needs of employers.
This report provides an in-depth analysis of the geographic distribution of student loan debt — and distress — in Philadelphia. It reveals that borrowers living in different zip codes have drastically different experiences with respect to how much they owe, the degree to which they struggle with repayment, and the extent to which they become delinquent. This report also discusses the implications of student loan debt for individual borrowers and the economy as a whole.
Enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones are designed to spur economic development and job creation in economically distressed communities by providing tax benefits to investors who make eligible investments into these areas. Using Philadelphia as a case study, our research finds that gentrifying areas were much more likely to be designated as Opportunity Zones in the city, although these neighborhoods generally had higher levels of economic distress than not-selected areas.
This report, published jointly by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and PolicyMap, combines detailed, nationally representative survey data on housing quality issues with estimates of the costs of reasonable repairs to model the total costs of addressing substandard housing conditions nationwide. According to a recent survey, more than one-third of households experienced at least one housing problem, with the national cost of addressing reported deficiencies estimated at $126.9 billion in 2018. Our analysis indicates that extensive repair needs are more prevalent among low-income households, which occupy units accounting for $50.8 billion of the total, although issues were present across the income spectrum. To enhance our understanding of households with repair needs, we use unit and household characteristics to develop two typologies: one for owner-occupied units and another for renter-occupied units.
This report updates a 2015 publication investigating regional economic opportunity for workers without a four-year college degree. In this study, researchers from the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Cleveland find that opportunity employment — defined as employment accessible to workers without a bachelor’s degree and typically paying above the national annual median wage, adjusted for regional differences in consumer prices — accounts for 21.6 percent of total employment but ranges from a high of 34.0 percent to a low of 14.6 percent in the metro areas analyzed. The report illustrates how the local mix of occupations, employers’ educational expectations, and the cost of living combine to expand or limit local opportunity relative to national conditions, and it finds that some of the largest opportunity occupations became more accessible to sub-baccalaureate workers as the labor market tightened.
We are excited to announce the release of the book Investing in America’s Workforce: Improving Outcomes for Workers and Employers. It includes the voices of more than 100 authors who share research, best practices, and resources on workforce development. The book is divided into three volumes: Investing in Workers, Investing in Work, and Investing in Systems for Employment Opportunity. The publication is the result of a two-and-a-half-year collaboration between the Federal Reserve System, the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, the Ray Marshall Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
Download your free copy today at www.investinwork.org/book.
This report analyzes the risks of automation and job opportunities for different demographic groups in the U.S. and 11 metropolitan areas in the Third Federal Reserve District. The study, by Lei Ding, Elaine Leigh, and Patrick Harker, attempts to clarify some misunderstanding on how automation impacts jobs.
The following reports use quantitative and qualitative research methods, respectively, to understand issues of equitable access to public transit and employment. These reports were produced as part of the Philadelphia Fed’s Economic Growth & Mobility Project.
Transportation can pose a barrier to employment for low-income residents unable to afford a car. This report examines access to transit, access to decent-paying jobs not requiring a four-year college degree, and the accessibility of large employment centers across three medium-sized regions in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The results demonstrate how patterns of employment and public transit affect job access at the neighborhood level, with a particular focus on low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.
For residents unable to afford a car, transportation can be an obstacle to finding and keeping a job. This report explores the extent to which public transit in northeastern Pennsylvania connects low-income neighborhoods to opportunity employment, which pays above the median wage and doesn’t require a four-year degree. It concludes by identifying opportunities to more equitably connect low-income neighborhoods to jobs.
This report reflects qualitative research conducted by The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development at Wilkes University to explore transit equitability in northeastern Pennsylvania. Produced for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the Scranton Area Community Foundation, the report assesses transportation barriers for community members, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds and those most at risk of facing transportation difficulty.
Reflecting a collaboration between the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, this report combines an analysis of publicly available data with a survey of city-based manufacturers and a series of focus groups to gain a better understanding of the manufacturing sector in the city of Philadelphia. The report covers a variety of topics, including employment trends and wage levels, manufacturers’ growth intentions and barriers to growth, detailed information on the characteristics of manufacturing workers, and an overview of the manufacturing support ecosystem in the city. Opportunities to help firms thrive and grow into larger jobs generators are also discussed.
This paper sets a framework for building transformative economies. Prepared by Paul C. Brophy, Robert Weissbourd, Andy Beideman for the Economic Growth and Mobility Project, the authors share policy levels to foster inclusive growth practices and highlight emerging approaches and innovative programs in regions across the country.
This report analyzes information gathered from nearly 1,000 leaders who work at the intersection of workforce training, recruitment, and finance. The study provides a current snapshot of the workforce development sector and its key challenges. It offers strategies for improving the human capital of America’s labor force, expanding access to jobs, and innovating workforce development funding.
Apprenticeship is a talent recruitment and development strategy that has been used traditionally in construction and the skilled trades and is being applied to high-growth sectors such as health care, information technology, manufacturing, and financial services.
This guide explains how apprenticeships work; discusses trends, successes, and challenges in U.S. apprenticeships; provides case studies of five long-term apprenticeship programs; profiles new and noteworthy programs; and includes contacts and resources.
This report describes the expansion of apprenticeship to high-growth sectors such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, health care, and financial services both nationally and in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. An update to the 2017 Apprenticeship Guide, the report examines national and regional trends such as the role of pre-apprenticeships linked to Registered Apprenticeships, the emergence of intermediaries that organize activity on behalf of multiple employers and apprentices, and growing interest in youth apprenticeships that start in high school. Employers use apprenticeship as a talent recruitment and development strategy, while apprentices obtain a structured career pathway with wages, industry credentials, and, in some cases, college credits. Apprenticeship integrates on-the-job workplace learning and related training and instruction. It has traditionally been used in the U.S. in construction and the skilled trades.
In the fall of 2015, the Camden campus of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (Rutgers–Camden), announced plans to implement a financial aid program called Bridging the Gap that would eliminate or substantially reduce the cost of tuition and fees for in-state students from low- and middle-income families. This series comprises a multiyear, mixed-methods evaluation of Bridging the Gap to assess its impacts on student success and financial wellbeing. Insights from student interviews are paired with analysis of academic performance data to provide a fuller picture of the program's impact.