By Melissa Young, Director, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity and Chris Warland, Associate Director for Field Building, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
At Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity, our policy goals and program recommendations are based on research, evidence, and data—but they are also driven by values rooted in human rights and the dignity of all people. These are the values that have guided our work in the employment field since our inception. This Labor Day, we are reflecting on our commitments and looking forward to help establish these values and principles throughout the nation for the benefit of every person who wants to work.
By Chris Warland, Associate Director of Field Building, Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
As Domestic Violence Awareness Month draws to a close, it’s important to focus some attention on one of the frequently overlooked consequences of domestic violence: disconnection from work. For many survivors of domestic violence, earned income is critical for becoming financially independent and escaping abusers. Perhaps for this reason, survivors’ attempts to access education, training, or employment are often met with sabotage by their abusers.
Employment is Part of the Solution: Reflections on the 2015 National Conference on Ending Homelessness
By Chris Warland, Associate Director of Field Building, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
We believe that every person deserves the opportunity to succeed in work and support themselves and their families—and we’re always excited to share this message. Last month, as a part of our work under National Initiatives’ new National Center on Employment & Homelessness (NCEH), we traveled to Washington, D.C., to present, moderate, network, and learn alongside thousands of stakeholders at the 2015 National Conference on Ending Homelessness hosted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH). When NAEH asked us to share our employment-related takeaways on their blog, we couldn’t wait. Here’s what we learned—and where we think the field needs to go.
By Chris Warland, Associate Director for Field Building, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
Job quality for entry-level workers in the US is pretty dismal. The minimum wage is historically very low when adjusted for inflation, wage theft and other violations of wage and hour laws are commonplace, and employers often limit workers to part-time status or misclassify them as independent contractors in order to avoid offering benefits or paying overtime. New scheduling software allows employers to assign workers for short, unpredictable shifts in a way that maximizes profit but makes it difficult to plan transportation, arrange for childcare, or work more than one job (which is often necessary when you’re limited to part-time work).
We know that just getting a job is often not enough to allow an individual or family to escape poverty in America. There are millions of “working poor” Americans for whom the promise of hard work as a means to stability and security has not materialized. Over sixty-five percent of households living in poverty contain at least one working adult.
If transitional jobs programs succeed only in moving job seekers from chronic unemployment into low-wage, low-quality jobs, we have failed. We are merely adding to the numbers of the “working poor”—and we can do better.