Investing in America’s Workforce

February 15, 2018

On May 30, 2017, CDPS blogged about the final revisions to the Interagency Questions and Answers regarding Community Reinvestment. That blog focused on changes to the definition of community development, specifically the references to workforce development or other job training programs for low- or moderate-income (LMI) or unemployed persons as qualified activities under the regulation.

Connected to that revision, beginning earlier in 2017, the Board of Governors and the 12 Federal Reserve Banks undertook a multi-year, cross-sectoral endeavor to explore the regional aspects of improving workforce outcomes and investments. This initiative, titled Investing in America’s Workforce, aimed to reimagine and reframe workforce development efforts to create a foundation from which a new era of investment can grow. One component of this effort was to convene regional meetings across the country to identify new approaches, opportunities, and challenges in investing and evaluating outcomes in workforce development.

Participants in these meetings represented training providers, employers, financial institutions, government, philanthropy, policymakers, community development practitioners, as well as researchers. A total of 52 listening sessions were held across 32 states and Puerto Rico throughout the first half of 2017 with close to 1,000 participants. In the Federal Reserve’s Seventh District, which includes Iowa and portions of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, regional meetings were held in Des Moines, Iowa, Springfield, Illinois Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Key questions discussed were: 1) what opportunities for investment in workforce development exist, 2) what would make workforce development more investable, and 3) how can workforce development efforts be better evaluated?

These regional meetings revealed similar challenges facing both employers and potential job seekers across the country. However, several promising strategies were identified for expanding and diversifying the pipeline of skilled workers and connecting those workers to employers. The purpose of this blog is twofold: one is to describe the nature and purpose of the regional meetings as well as the full report. Consider sharing the report with your constituents or others that have a vested interest in furthering workforce development efforts. The second is to share some potentially helpful resources and opportunities to learn more about this topic:

  • Engaging Workforce Development: A Framework for Meeting CRA Obligations. In December 2016, the Federal Reserve Banks of Dallas and Kansas City released a publication designed to give banks, and organizations interested in partnering with them, tools and information to engage in workforce development activities in ways that may help fulfill obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The full Framework document can be found here.
  • Investing in America’s Workforce Capstone Conference and Publication. In October 2017, over 325 individuals attended a national conference in Austin, Texas, to discuss opportunities and challenges for investment in workforce development. Over 40 workforce, industry, philanthropic, and community experts spoke during the convening and highlighted encouraging areas for greater investments to benefit both businesses and workers. Recordings of the plenary sessions can be found here. In 2018, the Federal Reserve System will release a book exploring how to improve workforce outcomes for workers and employers.
  • Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta recently announced the launch of the Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity (CWEO). CWEO acts as a bridge between research and practice, connecting researchers, businesses, and policymakers with innovative approaches to creating economic opportunity through education and employment. We encourage you to visit the new site.
  • Three Part Webinar Series. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is hosting a three-part webinar series on strategies to promote and improve quality jobs for lower-wage workers. This series is hosted in partnership with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the Aspen Institute, and the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative at the Sloan School of Management in connection with the Federal Reserve System initiative Investing in America’s Workforce.  The sessions will explore strategies for improving job quality and outcomes for workers and businesses through the perspectives of employers, workers and the research community. The intended audience for these webinars is employers, workforce development intermediaries, chambers of commerce, business support organizations and community development practitioners. Information on the webinars is as follows:
Webinar I: How Employers Create Good Jobs to Maintain Their Competitive Advantage
  • Lead Partner: National Fund for Workforce Solutions
  • Date and Time: February 22, 2018: 2:00-3:00 pm CT
  • Registration link: Here
Webinar II: Engaging Workers in Creating Good Jobs
  • Lead Partner: Aspen Institute
  • Date and Time: March 22, 2018: 2:00-3:00 pm CT
  • Registration link: Here
Webinar III: In Search of the Employment “High Road”:  A Research Perspective on Developing Good Jobs
  • Lead Partner: National Fund for Workforce Solutions
  • Date and Time: April 26, 2018: 2:00-3:00 pm CT
  • Registration link: Here
  • 2018 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference. The Federal Reserve System, in conjunction with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, will be hosting the 2018 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference (NICRC) at the Hyatt Regency Miami March 18 through March 21. The event will bring together a diverse group of public, nonprofit, and private sector practitioners and leaders to discuss emerging ideas and best practices in community development from around the country, one of which will be workforce development. Registration is open, and more details can be found here.
  • CDPS Publications. If you subscribe to this Blog, but want to learn more about current economic development news, trends, policy, and research within the Federal Reserve’s Seventh District, subscribe to our signature publication, ProfitWise News and Views. To learn more about trends nationally, visit Fedcommunities.

We continue to explore opportunities to further engage in community development challenges, including workforce development. If you have any comments or questions about any of the resources listed above, please let us know. Questions or comments can be sent to

Check back often for updates on the initiative and new research on employment, workforce development, education, and training from around the Federal Reserve System.

Join the conversation on Twitter: @InvestInWork; #InvestInWork.

For more information on this initiative and other workforce development and human capital topics, please contact Jason Keller, economic development director within CDPS, at

The views expressed in this post are our own and do not reflect those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago or the Federal Reserve System.

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