|Dear Friends of the Center:
Eight years ago when former President Obama took office, the economy was an entirely different creature. The recession hadn’t yet peaked, and the country’s financial institutions were in crisis. Once the recovery began, the priority was to stabilize our financial systems and curb a growing unemployment rate that spiked to a staggering 10 percent in late 2009. Job creation was the priority then, and the unemployment figure of 4.7 percent at the close of Obama’s presidency shows the economy’s performance met expectations.
But jobs still claim center stage today due to President Trump’s campaign promise to bring jobs back to blue collar workers left behind by economic and technological change. Even though the jobs recovery has been strong, the focus has shifted to the types of jobs created and who has gotten them.
Thus begins the job quality phase of the debate. Jobs are back, but those with a high school diploma or less are still unemployed. Workers with at least some college education got 11.5 million of the 11.6 million jobs that were added to the economy during the recovery. This begs some key questions: How do we prepare high school workers for these economic shifts? And how can we prevent the gap in income inequality from widening between those with education beyond high school and those without?
The answer may be Trump’s infrastructure proposal, which is essentially a high school jobs project that has the potential to temporarily revive the blue-collar economy. We will see how that proposal unfolds over the next few months as the Trump Administration begins to tackle its lengthy list of campaign promises.
Founder and Director