Economic Development Recommendations That Focus on the “Working Poor”: Lessons from Waco

Most cities hope that the benefits of their economic development efforts trickle down to the poor segments of their population. In a twist, leaders in Waco, Texas decided that improving the lot of their working poor (which, as noted in the figure are likely to be the majority of the workforce) should be a direct goal of a new economic development strategy. The Upjohn Institute was chosen by Waco to help them devise and implement such a strategy. Beginning in summer 2013, project staff conducted a thorough review of the economic and workforce entities in Waco, pored over relevant economic and labor market data, and conducted nearly 200 personal interviews to develop the recommendations found in a new newsletter article. These recommendations are relevant for virtually any community. Click the link below to access the entire report.

“Waco has identified generational poverty and a high level of ‘working poor’ as defining characteristics of its economy and has prioritized understanding and addressing these conditions in order to enhance the overall resilience and economic success of the community and the region.”—City of Waco RFP

Previous Research Highlights

What Does the Minimum Wage Do?
Dale Belman and Paul J. Wolfson

This book attempts to make sense of the research on the minimum wage that began in the early 1990s. The authors look at who is affected by the minimum wage, both directly and indirectly; which observable, measurable variables (e.g., wages, employment, school enrollment) the minimum wage influences; how long it takes for the variables to respond to the minimum wage and the size and desirability of the effect; why the minimum wage has the results it does (and not others); and the workers most likely to be affected by changes to the minimum wage.