When it comes to communication and engagement, every issue has its own unique set of opportunities and obstacles.

Poverty and Low-Wage Work

The Problem

Advocates have been working for a number of years, with varying degrees of success, to enact policies and programs that address the obstacles standing in the path of low-wage workers who are striving to achieve the American Dream. Public attitudes toward poverty and the role of government in addressing poverty need to change. The public remains divided about the causes of poverty and continues to cast some responsibility on the poor for their situation. If the public is unable to see the systemic issues that exacerbate poverty, then continuing to use a safety net or sympathy message is unlikely to succeed in building broad support for public action.

The Solution

When we replace stories about the challenges faced by poor individuals with stories about broader economic dynamics, the interdependence of all workers, and the planning that will lead to a prosperous nation, we expand the base of support for government action to include members of the public who do not respond to the sympathy frame.

This research, funded by the Ford Foundation, has been widely disseminated to advocates all over the nation with the support of The Mobility Agenda, The Fairness Initiative on Low-Wage Work, and others. Utilized widely by groups such as the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Economic Policy Institute, and the National Employment Law Project, it remains a critical source of information for state and local efforts to address issues of poverty and low-wage work across the nation.