Virtual Event



Challenges and Opportunities: How Tight Labor Markets Create Mobility Ladders for Workers and Low-Income Families

Tuesday, April 4, 2023 03:00 pm - 04:15 pm

Unemployment in the United States remains historically low, and today’s tight labor market has translated into improved opportunities for many workers, including those for whom increased wages, benefits, and voice have long remained elusive. Yet inflation is putting significant pressure on household budgets. Economic policymakers have a dilemma on their hands as they seek to balance a white-hot job market against the rising cost of living. What is gained from tight labor markets, for whom, and how should we think about a sustainable equilibrium between inflation and unemployment rates? 

Join WorkRise for a virtual event with nationally recognized researchers and leaders from the worker advocacy, business, workforce development, and antipoverty communities to consider these and other questions arising from today’s dynamic labor market context. This conversation will also feature findings from Moving the Needle: What Tight Labor Markets Do for the Poor, a newly released book from Katherine S. Newman and Elisabeth Jacobs that uses more than 70 years of data following thousands of Americans’ employment and earnings trajectories, as well as interviews with employers, job seekers, workforce development professionals, and longtime residents of poor neighborhoods. Speakers will also highlight potential actions that policymakers, employers, workers’ advocates, and workforce development and human services practitioners can take to build on the positive momentum that tight labor markets generate for economic mobility.


  • Indi Dutta-Gupta, President and Executive Director, Center for Law and Social Policy 
  • Elisabeth Jacobs, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, WorkRise, Urban Institute; coauthor, Moving the Needle
  • Myra Jones-Taylor, Chief Policy Impact Officer, Urban Institute
  • Quentin L. Messer Jr., Chief Executive Officer, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
  • Kerri Nelson, Director, Policy & Partnership Research, Society for Human Resource Management
  • Katherine Newman, Provost, University of California; coauthor, Moving the Needle
  • Sarah Rosen Wartell, President, Urban Institute 
  • Jason Tomlinson, Advancing Black Strategists Initiative National Program Manager, Jobs with Justice

Event Materials:

Support for this event is provided by the funders of WorkRise. For more information on the Urban Institute’s funding principles, go to
We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. Please email if you require any accommodations or have any questions about this event.