Worker Voices: Shifting Perspectives and Expectations on Employment

As the COVID-19 pandemic entered its third year, the initial shocks of closures and layoffs had subsided, and indicators suggested the U.S. economy was on the rebound. Unemployment was at historical lows, wages were rising, and employers were expanding hiring practices, attempting to open doors to more job seekers. Yet, there were approximately two job openings for every one job seeker, indicating there were not enough workers in the job market. The Worker Voices Project is a Federal Reserve System research effort, started in May 2022, engaging low-wage workers and nondegree job seekers through focus groups across the country to understand their experiences of the economy in the recovery. This report offers a nuanced perspective on how these workers and job seekers navigate employment and strive for economic stability in the labor market.

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