WELCOME TO THE NORTHWEST PAPERS
In this moment, because of the pandemic and resulting economic crisis, millions of us are facing delinquent mortgages, eviction, loss of employer-provided health insurance, lack of affordable child care, and fears that our children are losing ground in remote schooling with inadequate digital and language access. In less than a month, federal small business relief and unemployment benefits may dry up completely, and this could push many Americans over the economic cliff altogether. But the stresses being placed on workers, our families and communities aren’t new.
We are in the midst of an unprecedented political, health, and economic crisis. We do not know with any certainty the duration and long-term impacts of the pandemic and economic crisis, or the extent of continuing or future federal workforce supports. We now face a two-track economic recovery in which the wealthiest Americans are rebounding, even thriving, while middle- and lower-income workers face prolonged economic instability. The economic shock of public health lockdowns is making clear the negative consequences of economic dynamics that were already in motion.
The Northwest Papers focus on the problems of rising economic instability, the decline of quality jobs, and the reproduction of inequality. We explore solutions to these problems by posing Washington State-specific policy questions to prompt dialogue and invite you to actively participate in the exchange of ideas that will follow in the weeks ahead.
Together we can make meaning of this moment, and imagine what it could look like to rebuild better.
NORTHWEST PAPERS #1: Recovery for Whom? Building a Future of Economic Stability, Quality Jobs & Equity
In this first of four Northwest Papers, we explore the “big-picture” questions of where we are, how we got here, and where we are headed. Our analysis unapologetically focuses on the needs and interests of working people and channels the voices of those most impacted by the crisis. Subsequent papers will provide case studies on our essential public and workforce needs, including the grocery retail sector, the early learning and child-care field, and our system and networks of community, human, and social services agencies and organizations.
We envision a “new reconstruction” that will dismantle policies, practices, and structures that reproduce economic inequality and perpetuate generational disparities of race, immigration status, gender, income, and class. Overcoming rising inequality will require a popular, intersectional movement demanding a comprehensive national and state policy agenda.
There is no one solution and a broad suite of policies must be enacted nationally and in Washington centered on rejecting austerity and budget cuts, increasing public investment in a range of public goods and quality jobs, and re-envisioning economic and workforce development. In its 2021 session, Washington’s lawmakers will face a reckoning over revenue, budgets, and public needs as estimates now indicate a $4.2 billion shortfall through 2023. Will they solve the right problems? The answer is up to us and our ability to craft and effectively advocate a unified policy agenda.
The Northwest Papers series focuses on economic issues, but we are compelled to address the ongoing erosion of political equality and the weakening of democratic institutions and values. We believe that political equality and civic engagement is the foundation of our vulnerable democracy and that it is the equal right of all, native born and immigrant alike, to have their voices heard on matters of public policy. Absent the preservation and expansion of our democratic rights, our collective hopes for economic stability, quality jobs and equity will not come to pass.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
In the next few weeks, we will be announcing an event to come together to discuss the recommendations outlined within the report. Check back here for more details soon.