Abigail Wozniak Director, Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute and Senior Research Economist
The Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute has a critical mission: to conduct and promote research that will increase economic opportunity and inclusive growth, and help the Federal Reserve achieve its maximum employment mandate.
Fortunately, we work toward that mission in an institution—the Federal Reserve System—that already excels at combining research and policy. And our home here at the Minneapolis Fed is particularly known for its history of linking groundbreaking research with significant public policy.
In the course of about a generation, significant changes in the labor market have complicated the very idea of maximum employment. New data and research findings have documented distributional shifts that require urgent attention.
These findings also raise questions that go to the heart of the dual mandate. What does it mean to make full use of the labor force when research has shown that adult outcomes, such as earnings and employment, depend on early childhood investments? At what point is participation in the labor market really a choice when individuals face structural barriers, such as discrimination, discouragement, or limited options for child or elder care? And how should policymakers choose between encouraging faster employment gains with lower-paying jobs versus slower gains with higher-paying jobs?
The Institute is a response to the need for more focused engagement with these and similar questions by the Federal Reserve System. We want to be a primary source for policymakers inside and outside the Fed to access expertise on the diverse experiences of American households and the role of policy in shaping those experiences. This requires developing the same kind of network of academic researchers and community and policy partners that the Fed has built around its price stability goal.
So, how do we do all of this?
We engage in cutting-edge research on Institute-relevant topics. Research originated and directed by our economists has examined how neighborhood self-segregation perpetuates inequality and how employment stability for U.S. workers has changed over time.
We host focused conferences that synthesize high-caliber, academic-style research on a wide range of questions and provide an opportunity for participation and feedback from wider communities.
We gather a robust group of Visiting Scholars every year, building relationships with a broad group of researchers from across the nation and around the world to work with our staff researchers, academic consultants, and one another.
We reach the broader community, including serving as a hub to connect organized community groups, policymakers, policy analysts, and academics. An example is our multiyear work evaluating the impacts of the $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Our bottom line? A combination of research and communication supporting the Federal Reserve’s unique contribution to researching, understanding and, frankly, moving the needle to advancing opportunity and inclusive growth.