Case for Equity
The economy is undergoing significant disruption. The accelerating pace of technology and the continued rate of globalization have wreaked havoc on labor markets and contributed to a growing skills gap (Lerman, 2015). Our economy is bifurcating into two segments with tremendous growth in the upper and lower-income groups, and a hollowing out of the middle class (Pew, 2015). These trends have had a disproportionately negative impact on rural communities and workers of color. The evidence is clearly visible in the wage gap between white workers and workers of color, the gender gap, and the growing wealth gap which is compounded by these labor market trends (Pew, 2016). The effects on rural America are compounding as waves of successive downturns have erased the mobility prospects for generations of workers of all racial groups. Workforce investment on a massive scale could potentially be a catalyst to increase the labor force participation and productivity of millions of workers and eliminate those gaps. Simultaneously, productivity would unleash a level of economic growth and prosperity that would translate into wealth creation and opportunities for all of America. Citigroup estimates that the racial wage gap costs $2.7 trillion in lost GDP annually, and over the past 20 years, the white gender gap alone has cost the US economy $5 trillion (Peterson, 2020).