Graphic of USA map with a magnifying glass

Updated: 31st May, 2024

Evidence in Action: Understanding Jobs, Workers, and Mobility

Making an Impact Driven by Data

At the Gates Foundation, we thrive on data and evidence. There’s nothing we like more than a solid piece of research to guide our investment strategies. But research can’t make a difference if it just sits on the shelf. This is especially true in the world of work. From the global pandemic to national conversations on workplace diversity to the emergence of AI across every industry, employers and employees alike are navigating big changes in our work lives.

WorkRise invests in cutting-edge research about the workplace that can transform the labor market for workers who have traditionally faced the greatest challenges. A national research-to-action network, WorkRise understands that any study of the unique needs, skills, and barriers of today’s workers must keep up with the evolving world around them—and must immediately get into the hands of those who can make the best decisions with that information.

WorkRise therefore treats its research as a public good. And it deliberately seeks out a diverse network of researchers to set the agenda for analyzing the latest American trends across jobs, workers, and mobility. Then it transforms these insights into real solutions that can strengthen employers, inform policymaking, and provide genuine economic mobility and security for workers, especially for people who face systemic barriers to opportunity. It also convenes often-siloed groups like employers, worker advocates, policymakers, academics, and philanthropists to come together and collaborate to solve problems.

Last October, for example, WorkRise released a new data tool that tracks which locations and industries are most occupied by low-wage jobs across the country. The national data collected shows us that low-wage workers make up more than a quarter of the total labor force, and within that women make up more than half of the low-wage workforce. By creating access to credible data and targeted interventions to the specific regions and industries most in need, policymakers and those working on the ground—including economic developers, workforce development practitioners, and worker advocates —can promote greater economic growth and quality, higher-earning jobs for all.


Graphic of USA Medium wage of workers 

Gates Philanthropy Partners, along with the Gates Foundation, funded the Urban Institute to set up WorkRise because we believe in its mission to identify, test, and share bold ideas. We also like how they can get creative in how they share their findings, including via bite-sized video shorts. Most importantly, there is now a robust infrastructure in place that can tackle the latest data needs in this fast-changing economy.

Already WorkRise has become a trusted resource for data, evidence, and tools that our country needs to shape a more equitable labor market. Without actionable data, we can’t create actionable change for today’s—or tomorrow’s—workers.

To learn more about ways you can help get smart data on jobs and mobility into the hands of decision makers, reach out to us at [email protected].

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