Ashley Putnam on the workers’ perspective

Thought leaders share ideas with WorkingNation Overheard at JFF Horizons 2023

A new report from the U.S. Federal Reserve System – Worker Voices – examines how job seekers and workers in lower-wage roles navigated the labor market throughout the pandemic.

“[The] project was really an effort to elevate the voices of individuals who are workers or job seekers and understand how they’re navigating the labor market right now,” says Ashley Putnam, director, Economic Growth and Mobility Project, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

WorkingNation sat down with Putnam at JFF Horizons in New Orleans.

Putnam notes, “We learn they’re really shifting their expectations. They’re looking for better quality jobs. They’re looking for jobs that provide them career pathways. They’re looking for jobs that treat them with dignity – something many of us would want in any job we would have.”

She explains that many workers who were interviewed for the project were lower-wage workers who performed frontline jobs during the pandemic.

Putnam says, “Workers are also really looking to understand how they’re being managed. I think a lot of this work actually may be about the managers of frontline workers.”

She adds there were some unexpected responses from workers, “One of the things that was really surprising was the number of people who are willing to leave the labor market entirely and start a business or pursue entrepreneurship because they’re not finding economic opportunity within the job market. I think there’s some concern there that we really should be creating a job market where everybody can have access to opportunity. And the answer isn’t, ‘I’m just going to work for myself.’”

Learn more about Worker Voices here.

Learn more about the Economic Growth and Mobility Project, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.