Economic Mobility & Resilience Explained


What if everyone who was seeking work could get a good job, could advance in their career and make more money, and could live in a convenient, vibrant neighborhood? And what if everyone, when life dealt us unexpected economic shocks, could weather these storms more easily and recover more quickly?

If both of these things were true, we'd have economic mobility and resilience, a way to get ahead when times are good, and a way to bounce back when times get tough.

For years, economic mobility and resilience have been a part of the American dream. But for many Americans, that dream of economic mobility and resilience is unlikely to ever become a reality.

All too often, being born in poverty defines someone's condition for the rest of their life. And that's a big problem because where you start in life, the wealth of your family, the neighborhood where you grow up, the availability and quality of the schools, hospitals, and stores in that neighborhood, and the color of your skin, these are strong predictors of your personal economic future.

Worse, unfair practices, like historic policies limiting where people of color can live, work, or go to school, have a lasting legacy that restricts economic mobility and resilience. This impact becomes especially clear during times of crisis, as when the pandemic eliminated the health and recovery disparities for persons of color and low income workers and families.

The result? Instead of one big economy that works for everyone, America has many economies. And some of these economies aren't thriving, which brings us back to the American dream.

It turns out one part of this dream, that all Americans should be able to muscle through adversity, pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, and achieve their goals, isn't equally achievable. In fact, for some Americans, the level of unfairness is so big and so pervasive, it's highly unlikely that any one person could overcome it alone.

That's bad for everyone because when we don't have as many people employed in a quality job, pursuing an education, owning businesses, or investing in their community as possible, our economy isn't as productive as it could be. And that threatens everyone's quality of life.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is working with many others to change this. We believe increasing economic mobility and resilience is good for individuals, communities, and the overall economy.

And because we also have a mandate from Congress to keep as many people employed as possible, we're uniquely positioned to help by drawing on our network of local and regional relationships, convening a network of researchers and practitioners to leverage their knowledge and influence, and using our own research and data to help understand and address these issues in the part of the country we call home.

In cities and towns across the nation, too many Americans are struggling. If that doesn't change, everyone's quality of life will decline.

To make meaningful and lasting change, we're all going to have to work together. We are eager to engage with others interested in and focused on economic mobility and resilience, and invite you to reach out to us for partnership opportunities.

By coming together to make the American dream a reality for more Americans, we're building a stronger economy and a brighter future for every American.