Retail and Opportunity
Opportunity Nation commissioned Measure of America to explore which factors, beyond wages, influence economic opportunity and long-term economic security for retail workers and the communities in which they live. The resulting paper, “Retail and Opportunity”, was an input to an Opportunity Nation issue brief called “RETAIL’S OPPORTUNITY: Exploring the Industry’s Impact on People and Places”. Past research on workers in the retail sector showed that individuals face many obstacles on the path to economic success. This research investigated how retail employment relates to broader community conditions and individual-level characteristics with the aim to answer three questions.
Connecting Youth and Strengthening Communities
RELEASED SEPTEMBER 29, 2014
FULL REPORT | INTERACTIVE TOOL
Measure of America has developed a new analysis for Opportunity Nation that explores the relationship between civic engagement and opportunity. Supported by the Citi Foundation, the report, “Connecting Youth and Strengthening Communities: The Data Behind Civic Engagement and Economic Opportunity,” provides data and analysis that builds on previous studies that found associations between civic engagement and economic opportunity.
According to Kristen Lewis, Co-director of Measure of America, “Today, 5.8 million young people—about one in seven Americans between the ages of 16 and 24—are neither working nor in school. Finding ways to connect them to mainstream opportunities is vital to their futures. If we do nothing, the cost to society as a whole will be great.”
The report found that civic engagement may help youth, particularly low-income teens and young adults ages 16-24, build social capital and skills that can help them find meaningful education and career pathways. Further, two forms of civic engagement in particular—volunteering and membership in a civic or service organization—are significant predictors of economic opportunity across states.
Other key findings:
Youth who volunteer are considerably less likely than their non-volunteering peers to be disconnected from work and school. In fact, the likelihood that a young person is disconnected drops nearly in half if he or she volunteers.
Civic engagement—specifically volunteering and participation in a civic or service organization—is a significant predictor of economic opportunity across states. Volunteerism has an inverse relationship with income inequality. In places with higher rates of volunteerism, income inequality tends to be lower.
Intuitively, we know that joining an organization, attending a public meeting or donating time or money to a charitable cause can all contribute to the social good. But there is a growing body of research that highlights additional benefits for individuals and society.
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