RAND Lowy Family Middle-Class Pathways Center

Stagnant or falling wages. Computers and automation. Newly irrelevant job skills.

For decades, the pathway to the American middle class has been obscured or blocked for too many. Changes in the workplace, new and emerging technology, globalization, and new expectations for workers mean that fewer and fewer Americans can expect to transition from high school to well-paying jobs that enable them to support families, retire with confidence, or bounce back easily from a disaster.

The RAND Lowy Family Middle-Class Pathways Center, launched as part of RAND’s Tomorrow Demands Today fundraising campaign, is committed to forging new and better paths toward equitable and sustainable work opportunities in today’s challenging world.

To assist workers, employers, and policymakers, we conduct pilot interventions, research, and analyses in three areas:

  • Man and woman engineer industry worker wearing hard hat in factory, photo by eakgrungenerd/AdobeStock

    Skill Development

    Workers need to acquire relevant skills through education or experience to survive and thrive in the economy. The center's work shows why and how employers, education and training institutions, and workers can collaborate to make skill acquisition a priority in a rapidly changing world.

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    Building and running a business can be an effective path into the middle class for many. The center's work focuses on how entrepreneurs can develop the kinds of agile firms needed to successfully navigate complex landscapes, and how policy can support—or hinder—entrepreneurial success in the United States.

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  • Spare part delivery drone at garage storage in leading automotive car service center for delivering mechanical shipping component part assembling to customeSpare part delivery drone at garage storage in leading automotive car service center for delivering mechanical shipping component part assembling to customer, photo by Shutter2U/Getty Images

    Workplace Technology

    The interactions between human workers and computers is a new and complex managerial frontier. The center’s work seeks to develop new decisionmaking tools to help managers advance techniques and strategies for more successful human-machine interactions and to anticipate the impacts of new technologies.

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New From the Center

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    Barriers to Entering the U.S. Middle Class

    Achieving and keeping middle-class status has become more difficult. Jobs with good pay for those without a college degree are getting exported or eliminated. Earning educational credentials is costly. Existing jobs are increasing education requirements, providing fewer benefits, and may not lead to longer-term careers.

  • A couple managing their finances using a laptop and calculator, photo by fizkes/Getty Images

    The Decline of the American Middle Class

    Depending on definition, the American middle class has been either receiving less income or shrinking in size since the '70s. The economic effects of the pandemic will likely generate further declines in the middle class and a disproportionate entry into the lower class.