Field Notes: Creating ‘Good Jobs’ Through CDFI Investing

InSight at Pacific Community Ventures supports investment in "good jobs" with a report helping CDFIs define them & track their borrowers' impact on communities.


Pacific Community Ventures' InSight team released the first in a series of reports on defining and measuring the creation of quality jobs. While unemployment has dropped to five percent, job growth has largely taken place in low-wage industries where real wages have remained stagnant

President and CEO Mary Jo Cook explains PCV's motivations in the Huffington Post:

In order to continue to build wealth in these communities, and reverse the troubling trends we’re seeing in our economy, we no longer find it defensible to focus on job creation alone. It’s clear that job creation does not equate to lasting economic change. And so, we must shift our focus to the creation of higher quality jobs — jobs that are good for workers and their families, good for businesses, and good for communities — enabling us to build an economy that works for everyone.

The report speaks especially to fellow Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which are uniqely positioned to address rising income inequality and support community prosperity by investing not just in jobs, but in "good jobs" that provide livelihood and opportunity:

Over the past 20 years, CDFIs have deployed over $35 billion in investments, creating 721,000 jobs in the process. Seventy-five percent of these jobs were created for low-income individuals, 52 percent for minorities, and 48 percent for women.

By conducting in-depth interviews and an extensive literature review the authors determined five core features of a quality job. They note that the core principles should be flexible and and that CDFIs must always be seeking to improve them:

Given that the specific elements of a quality job vary by industry, business size, job function, and employee demographics, we offer a flexible definition: a quality job provides at least three (3) of the following five (5) key elements.

1. A living wage sufficient to support a decent standard of living—or, at minimum, exceeds the median wage offered within the employer’s industry.

2. Basic benefits that increase economic security, improve health, and promote work-life balance among workers. These include paid leave, health insurance, and a retirement savings plan.

3. Career-building opportunities that help employees develop the skills, networks, and experiences necessary to launch a career or advance along a career path. These opportunities can include training and mentorship—both formal and informal—and avenues for advancement within the company.

4. Wealth-building opportunities that enable and incentivize an employee to build the assets they need to manage financial emergencies and achieve long-term financial security for themselves and their families.

5. A fair and engaging workplace that balances the priorities and wellbeing of employees with the needs of the business. Examples include offering flexible and predictable schedules, treating all staff with respect and dignity, actively soliciting employees’ ideas to improve the business, and helping staff understand how their work contributes to the business’s success.

The report emphasizes that for CDFIs to understand their own impact on borrowers, clients, and beneficiaries, they must measure the number of quality jobs they are supporting and view increasing the number and quality-level of good jobs as an ongoing process.

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