This fall’s election highlighted a deep undercurrent of anxiety that the American Dream is eroding.
People have real reason to be worried. New data from Stanford’s Raj Chetty illustrates that with every passing decade since the 1940s, Americans have become less and less likely to out-earn their parents.
Donald Trump tapped into that anxiety to great effect. But blaming immigrants, weakening labor unions, eliminating health-care coverage for millions of Americans, privatizing infrastructure, and rolling back financial-sector regulation won’t restore upward mobility. Trump’s voters will be sorely disappointed.
Still, it’s not enough for progressives to highlight the flaws in Trump’s economic policies. We must lead the way with policies that do better to create and share economic opportunity—with immigrants, people-of-color, and white working-class families alike. Chetty’s new data holds the key: It shows that downward economic mobility is due primarily to the rise of inequality, even more than slower growth. The way to restore upward mobility is through more equal growth.
In New York City, that’s exactly what we are working to do. Over the last four decades, New York City has faced similar challenges to other cities across the nation: stagnant wages, disinvestment, the loss of assembly-line manufacturing, rising health-care costs, and more. But our answer has not been to fear change, blame immigrants, or build walls. Instead, we are combining strategic investments and progressive regulation to forge the path to a thriving and more equal economy.
Here’s what that looks like on the ground, in New York City:
1) Investing in sectors for inclusive growth
As the economy has shifted, we have responded by investing in sectors that have real potential for growth—including applied sciences, technology, and modern manufacturing—and that create good jobs that are accessible to workers of all backgrounds and skill levels.
We are building a major new applied-sciences campus on Roosevelt Island, initiated during the Bloomberg administration and on track to open later this year with groundbreaking new programs in health technology and connective media. We will invest $500 million to spur thousands of new jobs in New York City’s emerging biotech and life-sciences industries.
We are transforming the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal (once part of America’s military infrastructure) into modern industrial parks by providing state-of-the-art, affordable work space for hundreds of companies employing tens of thousands of New Yorkers in manufacturing, technology, design, and film/TV production. And our just-announced $250 million hub for technology and innovation near Union Square will allow New Yorkers to develop digital skills, provide space for tech start-ups, and serve as the home for the burgeoning “civic tech” community.