Reports - From 1982 to 2020, Deliberative Forums on Jobs and the Economy

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The Kettering Foundation has released a new report (in a short and a longer version) that describes outcomes of forums held between 1982 and 2020 on the topics of jobs and the economy.

The longer version (14 pages), titled ENDURING VALUES, CHANGING CONCERNS: A Retrospective Analysis of NIF Forums on Jobs and the Economy from 1982 to 2020 is available as a free download. The following is excerpted from the report:

Since its founding, the National Issues Forums (NIF) has revisited the issue of jobs and the economy on nine separate occasions, ranging from its inaugural year in 1982 to its most recent forums in 2020. In this analysis, we have reviewed reports from those forums to understand how the nature of public discussion has evolved over almost four decades. Four main themes have emerged from the review:

  • Enduring values. Despite dramatic changes in the economic realities that face the country, the forum participants invariably return to a consistent set of values.
  • Changing concerns. Although the values remain constant, the participants' concerns and worries change in response to changing economic conditions.
  • Underlying causes. The participants--consistent with their values orientation--tend to see problems at the values level as major drivers of economic problems.
  • Policies. Over the years, the forums have presented many different policy options for deliberation by the participants, and their values have shaped their responses to these options. 

The shorter version (6 pages) of the report is titled AMERICA'S JOB ONE: How a Deliberative Public Talks about the Economy and is also available as a free pdf download.

The following is excerpted from this report:

NIF forums demonstrate that lay individuals can deliberate seriously on policy problems. Questions do not have to be sugarcoated or oversimplified. Typical Americans can handle an enormous amount of complexity when invited to do so.

Perhaps the principal takeaway from 40 years of NIF forums on the economy is that when people deliberate together, they tend to reach judgments that are reasonable and thoughtful and often provide sound guidance for decision-makers.

The report lists the NIF Jobs and Economy Issue Guides that have been produced over the last 40 years:

1982: Jobs and Productivity

1984: Jobs and the Jobless in a Changing Workplace

1990: Regaining the Competitive Edge: Are We up to the Job?

1992: Prescription for Prosperity: Four Paths to Economic Renewal

1995: Pocketbook Pressure: Who Benefits from Economic Growth?

1998: Jobs: Preparing a Workforce for the 21st Century

2010: Economic Security: How Should We Take Charge of Our Future?

2016: Making Ends Meet: How Should We Spread Prosperity and Improve Opportunity?

2020: Back to Work: How Should We Rebuild Our Economy?


(Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash)