Giving Compass' Take:

• John C. Austin, at Brookings, makes the case for modernizing workers' economic security as coronavirus exposes the dangerous holes in current policies.

• How do certain states require more specified security measures for workers in different sectors? What can you do to engage public policy for more responsible economic safety for workers?

• Learn more about different resources geared towards supporting workers' economic security through the pandemic.

In many hard-hit states, the pandemic-induced recession has shredded programs for workers’ economic security and career advancement. These have been long overdue for a modernization, having failed to provide security even before the pandemic, in an economy defined by technological disruptions, fast-evolving skill demands, and changing work regimens.

As the pandemic exposes the shortcomings of our workers’ safety net, we must use the crisis to accelerate necessary changes to federal and state workforce policies. As argued in our recent Chicago Council on Global Affairs report, our country’s economic security and career advancement programs must be refashioned to adapt to occupational changes and new workplace realities.

The safety net we’ve been living with for decades was never designed to support today’s workplace and employment patterns and needs, such as the gig economy and contract work. And by tying workers to their current employer and occupation, it does the opposite of what today’s workers need most: help navigating changes in a labor market defined by constantly shifting skill demands, increasing AI and automation, and the disappearance of whole occupations in a flash, while others emerge just as quickly.

Further compounding the need for change is the reality that the long-term economic impacts of COVID-19 will hit some regions harder than others, especially the “old economy,” or manufacturing-intensive states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. These regional recessions mean our Midwest workers will, in the long run, be less likely to find work as automation accelerates, and laid-off workers’ skills atrophy. This will make it even more important to provide robust retraining and pathways for displaced adults for learning and work experience, all while providing some basics of income security, health care, and retirement benefits.

Read the full article about workers' economic security by John C. Austin at Brookings.