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Thrivers vs. Strugglers: A Growing Economic Divide—and What to Do About It

May 23, 2019

Research from the Center for Household Financial Stability at the St. Louis Fed shows that age, race and education mark an economic divide in the U.S.

Oren Cass, author of “The Once and Future Worker,” headlined a Center event at the St. Louis Fed that also featured Center Lead Economist William Emmons. A key question that Cass, Emmons and a panel of local leaders addressed was, “How is it that so many people are struggling financially despite a growing economy?” Cass focused on what he said is a flawed educational system that prioritizes the one-fifth of Americans on the traditional track of high school to college to career—at the expense of nearly all other workers. Emmons highlighted the challenges facing whites without college degrees.

Oren Cass shares views from his new book, “The Once and Future Worker,” taking a look at his working hypothesis and at what work is worth and why it matters to individuals, families, communities and the economy. Watch the entire presentation.

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If a man between the ages of 25 and 54 is not working, what is he doing? That’s the traditional way to approach the question of men’s declining prime age employment ratios, says Center Lead Economist William Emmons. But it’s important to ask if that’s the right way to ask the question, he says. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Emmons finds the decline is concentrated within the white male population. Watch the entire presentation.

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