Idea in Brief
The number of “good jobs” in the United States and other countries is declining despite sustained government and policy efforts.
Why It Happens
There is a widespread assumption that low-wage jobs are filled with minimally capable people—a prejudice that has denied millions of employees the opportunity to enhance their skills and use their brains.
Companies like Michelin have challenged that mindset and dramatically increased the authority and accountability of workers on the front lines. Michelin kick-started this change through a bottom-up process involving targeted experiments in select plants and eventually scaled up the most successful approaches across the organization.
The loss of “good jobs” in the U.S. economy and elsewhere has inspired a slew of proposals, including mandatory labor representation on corporate boards, benefits for gig economy workers, tax breaks for investments in human capital, and a minimum guaranteed income. While some of these ideas have merit, they don’t address what we believe is the root of the problem: the widespread assumption that low-wage jobs are filled by minimally capable people—a prejudice that has denied millions of employees the opportunity to enhance their skills and exercise their minds.