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How Minimum Zoning Mandates Can Improve Housing Markets and Expand Opportunity

State-level Minimum Zoning Mandates (MZMs) allowing landowners to build at a state-guaranteed minimum density, even in municipalities resistant to development, would be an effective means of encouraging denser housing development. These MZMs would improve housing affordability, spread economic opportunity more broadly, and limit the environmental impact of new development.

Economic Strategy for Higher Wages and Expanded Labor Participation

In this chapter, authors Jason Furman and Phillip Swagel propose two alternative policy options for promoting increased earnings and employment of low-income households: expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) among childless workers, and implementing a wage subsidy for low-income workers that would be administered through employers.

Scaling Apprenticeship to Increase Human Capital

In this chapter, author Robert Lerman argues that a large-scale apprenticeship program could address these challenges, while also yielding substantial additional gains for employers and the U.S. economy. He first reviews the evidence on apprenticeship, which suggests that increasing the availability of apprenticeships would increase youth employment and wages, improve workers’ transitions from school to careers, upgrade those skills that employers most value, broaden access to rewarding careers, increase economic productivity, and contribute to positive returns for employers and workers.

Restoring Economic Opportunity for “The People Left Behind”: Employment Strategies for Rural America

In order to stimulate employment in rural areas, author James P. Ziliak proposes a two-fold strategy of bringing “people to jobs” and “jobs to people,” an approach that combines people-based and place-based policies. The people-based policies include relocation assistance payments for those willing to make a permanent move to a new job, as well as a short- term credit for commuting expenses tied to a new job without residential relocation.

Creating Economic Opportunity for More Americans Through Productivity Growth

The U.S. economy in recent years has been characterized by slow average productivity growth and increasing productivity dispersion within industries. In this essay, author Chad Syverson discusses research into the potential causes of these patterns and outlines several policy changes that would yield expected productivity and wage benefits under general conditions.

Introduction: The Need to Expand Economic Opportunity

The pursuit of economic opportunity for all Americans is as important to the health of the country’s economy as it is to the strength of its democracy. The promise that hard work and determination will yield economic success is a central American ideal, but it has been called into question as secular economic forces and institutional changes have reshaped the American economy and had an uneven impact on Americans’ ability to prosper.

The Link Between Wages and Productivity Is Strong

In this chapter, author Michael R. Strain first discusses the wage-setting process and the conceptual issues that are of critical importance to any empirical investigation of the link between compensation and productivity. He then highlights some recent evidence suggesting that, contrary to the current narrative in some policy circles, the link between productivity and wages is strong.

The Higher Wages Tax Credit

In this chapter, author David Neumark proposes a Higher Wages Tax Credit (HWTC) to partially offset the costs imposed by minimum wage increases on firms that employ low-skilled labor. Following a minimum wage increase, the HWTC would provide a tax credit of 50% of the difference between the prior minimum wage and the new minimum wage, for each hour of labor employed; the credit would phase out at wages higher than the minimum wage, and as wage inflation erodes the real cost of higher nominal minimum wages.