Washington, D.C.: A report released today by the Center for American Progress commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by outlining recommendations to ensure that as the country’s economy changes and people of color grow to represent a majority of Americans, the United States pursues policies now to ensure that everyone has a chance at prosperity in the future.
According to a 2014 Pew Research Center report, 53 percent of Millennials think the government should do more to solve problems. They are more likely to be optimistic about the future of the country and more likely to value ensuring equal rights—particularly for African Americans and other oppressed groups. It is clear that the country has made considerable progress in key areas since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, but this work is still unfinished.
The report, titled “Dignified Jobs and Decent Wages: The Next 50 Years of Civil Rights and Economic Justice,” tracks the progress and hard-learned lessons about civil rights and economic justice from the past 50 years and the work needed to address these issues for the next 50 years.
Some of the policy recommendations highlighted in the report include:
- Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, which would increase the collective income of people of color by $16.1 billion.
- Increase federal investment in job-creation programs that prioritize generating job opportunities for youth and low-income and long-term unemployed adults.
- Invest in workforce development to prepare people for higher-skill, higher-wage jobs.
- Strengthen the social safety net to ensure that people can meet basic needs as they get back on their feet.
- Expand access to crucial benefits, such as paid family leave and paid sick days.
- Eliminate employment discrimination for people with criminal records to expand the possibilities for those who were formerly incarcerated.
- Reinvest in neighborhoods by expanding the Promise Zones initiative and offer planning grants and tax incentives for neighborhoods.
By the year 2020, all Millennials will be eligible to vote and will comprise 46 percent of the U.S. workforce. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that people of color will make up the majority of the U.S. population by 2042. Along with unmarried women of all ages, Millennials and people of color already made up more than half of the voting-eligible population in 2012 and will continue to drive demographic shifts in America. This report lays out a pathway forward as the nation tackles its demographic changes and looks to the promises of the civil rights era to inform future policy.