Trapped in America's Safety Net

Trapped in America's Safety Net

One Family's Struggle

Andrea Louise Campbell

The opportunity gap has widened. Since 1980, the United States has experienced what MIT economist David Autor calls a “polarization” of skills and wages. Employment growth exhibits a U-shaped pattern, with the greatest growth among both high-skill occupations at one end of the spectrum and low-skill service jobs at the other. At the same time, the greatest wage increases have been concentrated at the high end. 23 Unequal access to education and training programs makes it very hard for individuals to upgrade their skills and to enhance their financial prospects.

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