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REPORT: Making “Bad Jobs” Better Would Help Stabilize Economy

June 21, 2016

Improving poor-quality jobs is critical to stabilizing the U.S. economy, Pinkerton Foundation visiting fellow and former PHI president Steven L. Dawson argues in a newly published paper.

“Make Bad Jobs Better: Forging a ‘Better Jobs Strategy'” is the first in a projected series of papers on job quality that Dawson will write for the Pinkerton Foundation, a grantmaking organization that focuses on supporting economically disadvantaged families and youth.

“The premise of this first paper,” Dawson writes, “is that tightening labor markets across the country are resulting in new opportunities to engage directly with employers — not simply to access more jobs, but to work together to make bad jobs better for low-income workers.”

Bad jobs are not merely characterized by low wages, Dawson argues. He therefore outlines a more comprehensive strategy for improving job quality — for example, by enforcing job safety standards, introducing peer-mentoring programs, and developing self-managing work teams.

Dawson, along with Aspen Institute vice president of policy programs Maureen Conway, explored the idea of reducing income inequality by improving job quality in their 2016 report Restore the Promise of Work, which is cited in “Make Bad Jobs Better.”

Elsewhere in the Pinkerton paper, Dawson cites PHI as a leader in working for better jobs. PHI “has helped dozens of home care agencies and nursing homes to train their supervisors to become frontline ‘coaches’; create peer-mentor programs; and deepen on-the-job training — significantly decreasing turnover among frontline staff,” he writes.

Upcoming entries in the series will focus on issues such as recruitment and retention of workers, the Pinkerton Foundation website says.

— by Matthew Ozga

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