The promise of opportunity—and with it, economic and social mobility—is a central tenet of the American Dream. In his inaugural address, President Biden described a set of “common objects we love that define us as Americans.” The first on his list: opportunity.

However, while opportunity is omnipresent in political rhetoric and debate, there is little consensus as to what the barriers to opportunity—and mobility—in America are, let alone what we should do about them. Now, emerging from the economic devastation borne by COVID-19, and with the Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan on the horizon, there is an opportunity to turn promises into concrete action.

The American Jobs Plan hinges on two central prospects: That bold investment can create good jobs—for the present and the future—and that a targeted approach can meet workers most in need of opportunity where they are and connect them to these new jobs.

Our new report, “Moving up: Promoting workers’ economic mobility using network analysis,” focuses on helping policymakers and firms use their resources wisely to promote mobility for all Americans. We use network analysis to create a multi-dimensional map of the labor market, revealing a landscape riddled with mobility gaps and barriers. Utilizing data on hundreds of thousands of real workers’ occupational transitions, this research offers a new approach to better understand the contours of mobility. Moreover, our findings help illustrate why a multilateral approach to encouraging mobility is crucial—and that government, firms, worker organizations, and individuals all have a necessary part to play in promoting opportunity.

Read the full article about low-wage worker mobility by Marcela Escobari and Eric Krebs at Brookings.