Workforce First Report (2004)
As part of our 20th anniversary celebration this spring, we’re putting together a timeline of the most influential Growth & Justice policy publications over the years. In each week’s e-news, we’ll feature a notable past publication for your review and reflection.
This week is the Workforce First Report from February 2004. Workforce First was the first major policy report published by Growth & Justice and was the result of over nine months of research and roundtable discussions between policy experts, economists, and citizens from business, labor, government, nonprofits, and academia. The report concluded that by providing better education and skills for workers, the state could both boost the economy and significantly increase the number of Minnesotan families that are self-sufficient. It proposed an additional 10,000 college graduates and 15,000 skilled workers per year, which it calculated would create about a $6 billion benefit to the state. The research from Workforce First showed how to find the greatest potential in state education attainment, determined strategies to help low-income families access higher education, and prompted the Early Care and Learning Act— which consolidated state childcare assistance programs, provided open-ended funding for all eligible families, increased incentives for child care providers, and created a “Qualified Early Care and Learning Provider” designation for providers.
This month we are finalizing the planning team for our 20th anniversary celebration happening this spring! As we are still in a pandemic, the event itself (slated for April) will likely take place virtually. We’ll present a timeline of Growth & Justice’s most influential and momentous research and publications over the last two decades with reflections from past and present G & J staff and board members and then focus most of the event on conversations with young Minnesotans and what they consider the most important issues for Minnesota going forward. We’ll question the current process of policymaking itself. Where do we go from here? How can we change our policy-making structures to be more equitable and effective? What kinds of questions are younger generations asking (and acting upon) as they carry leadership baton for the next leg of Minnesota’s future?
We would love your help with brainstorming and putting together this mini-conference! If you’re interested, please email our communications coordinator Erin Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org before the end of January.
In the new year, we’re adding a recurring section to the newsletter on democracy, voter rights & suppression, redistricting, and anything else relevant to those topics. It will include democracy-related news and updates important to pay attention to at both the state or federal level.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’s fifth annual Regional Economic Conditions Conference will take place on January 14th from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. It will “focus on the Minneapolis Fed’s recent efforts to diversify its economic intelligence gathering, with an emphasis on the unique challenges faced by workers and minority- and women-owned business enterprises,” the event description reads. Best Buy CEO Corie Barry will talk with Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari about adjusting to the pandemic labor market and supply chain diversity. The conference will also include presentations and panel discussions with representatives of each state in the Ninth Federal Reserve District (Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, northwestern Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula). Find more info, view the agenda and register on this webpage!
“Why should all Minnesotans care? Because there is a high public return on investment for moving people up the wage ladder. People who earn more pay more state income taxes and are much less likely to commit crimes or end up in prison. Their children are likely to perform better in school, stay healthier, and become law-abiding and economically successful adults. Based on a state analysis, moving 50,000 low-wage workers with dependents to a wage $5 an hour higher, a wage they could live on, could save the state a quarter of a billion dollars a year. And businesses benefit from lower turnover, more productive employees, and more consumers able and willing to buy what they sell. Finally, the children of financially self-reliant parents do better, compounding all these benefits into the next generation.” — Workforce First Report, February 2004