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New Project To Examine Racial Bias in Low-wage Labor Market

Rockville, Md.  –  Abt Associates has been awarded a contract valued at up to $1.5 million to analyze how employment processes in the low-wage labor market contribute to racial disparities in employment in the U.S. The team will assess the presence of racial bias and barriers in various phases of the employment process, including how employers advertise jobs, screen applications, assign tasks and work hours, offer mentoring, set compensation, and decide on retention and promotions. The project is sponsored by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, a unit in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF).   

The project will center on the experiences of people of color who have lived experience in low-wage work, engaging them in the development of all project activities and products. We also will interview employers, employment-involved organizations, and policymakers and review research literature on bias in employment processes.

Drawing on that input, we will identify potentially promising strategies to address biases in the low-wage labor market and recommend research questions for further study by OPRE. Study findings aim to help ACF and other organizations better target their efforts to promote economic well-being.

”Racial equity in employment is an important step toward addressing economic inequality, broadening opportunity, and advancing larger goals of racial equity and justice,“ said Project Director Dr. Andrew Clarkwest. “The Abt team looks forward to collaborating with OPRE to help identify  racial barriers to for the purpose of increasing employment equity and opportunity for workers in low-wage jobs.”

Abt is leading the project in partnership with Dr. Susan Lambert of the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Public Policy, and Practice, an expert on employer practices and how they shape the quality of hourly jobs, the lives of workers in low-wage jobs, and inequality in society. Dr. Harry Holzer of the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy is a senior advisor to the team.

About Abt Associates
Abt Associates is a global consulting and research firm that combines data and bold thinking to improve the quality of people's lives. We partner with clients and communities to advance equity and innovation—from creating scalable digital solutions and combatting infectious disease, to mitigating climate change and evaluating programs for measurable social impact.

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