The Great Recession rapidly accelerated two long-term challenges facing American workers. The first challenge is that middle-class jobs are increasingly out of reach for workers who lack education and skills training beyond high school. Income and unemployment data make that clear enough.
The second challenge is that finding a job is no longer as easy as opening the classified ads or going to monster.com. Today’s labor market requires peer and professional networks and a better understanding of the opportunities available in our modern economy. This lesson applies to workers at all education levels—but it is particularly acute for low-skill workers, who are more likely to rely on public resources.
Put together, these challenges underscore why workers with low levels of human capital—such as education, skills, and peer and professional networks—are extremely disadvantaged in their efforts to achieve upward mobility in an increasingly knowledge-based economy.
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