Defining and Measuring The Creation of Quality Jobs

PCV InSightInSight, Publications, Quality Jobs

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Since the end of the Great Recession, almost 12 million jobs have been created — but most have been in low-wage occupations and at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants. Average wages for working Americans have dropped 23 percent. It’s become clear that job creation does not equate to lasting economic change. In order to reverse the troubling trends we’re seeing, we no longer find it defensible to focus on job creation alone. We must shift our focus to the creation of higher quality jobs that are good for workers and their families, good for businesses, and good for communities.

We are excited to share with you our latest discussion paper: Moving Beyond Job Creation: Defining and Measuring the Creation of Quality Jobs. 

Moving Beyond Job Creation has been made possible thanks to the support of the Surdna Foundation, and is the result of a year and a half of extensive research on the topic of quality job creation.  The paper is the first in a series of research under PCV’s new vision to make quality job creation the norm, and builds on our ten plus years of experience working with clients like CalPERS, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Northern California Community Loan Fund to help them measure and better understand their impact.

At the outset of this project, we sought to answer two important questions central to the creation of quality jobs:

1) What is a quality job, and

2) How can you measure job quality?

Our research is intended to support our peers in the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) industry who, through their financing, have served low-income and other disadvantaged communities for two decades.  While the CDFI industry has been instrumental in supporting job creation across the U.S., we believe that now is the time to focus greater attention on the quality of the jobs created in order to combat rising income and wealth inequality.

The Five Facets Of A Good Quality Job

Given that the specific elements of a quality job vary by industry, business size, job function, and employee demographics, we offer a flexible definition: a quality job provides at least three (3) of the following five (5) key elements:

  • A living wage sufficient to support a decent standard of living — or, at minimum, exceeds the median wage offered within the employer’s industry.
  • Basic benefits that increase economic security, improve health, and promote work-life balance among workers. These include paid leave, health insurance, and a retirement savings plan.
  • Career-building opportunities that help employees develop the skills, networks, and experiences necessary to launch a career or advance along a career path. These opportunities can include training and mentorship — both formal and informal — and avenues for advancement within the company
  • Wealth-building opportunities that enable and incentivize an employee to build the assets they need to manage financial emergencies and achieve long-term financial security for themselves and their families
  • A fair and engaging workplace that balances the priorities and wellbeing of employees with the needs of the business. Examples include offering flexible and predictable schedules, treating all staff with respect and dignity, actively soliciting employees’ ideas to improve the business, and helping staff understand how their work contributes to the business’s success.

The Full Paper

Through a better understanding of what defines a quality job and a set of practical methods for measuring the quality of jobs created, we believe CDFIs and others in the impact investing community will be better positioned to make more effective investments that support good jobs for workers, businesses, and communities.

This paper has been a collaborative effort, and we are especially grateful to our fellow researchers and partners in the CDFI and impact investing communities who have generously shared their work and insights with us as part of this research.  In the coming months, we hope to be able to continue the conversation and collaborate further on this important topic. Be sure to stay tuned for future research on quality jobs from PCV InSight.

We look forward to your comments and questions on this discussion paper. Contact us at and