Published: June, 2022

Why Four Policy Pillars? Ensuring economic security draws on four ‘pillars’ of policy: Labor, Benefit, Protection, and Equity. In the context of a changing economy and population, the Academy’s Economic Security Study Panel has developed a menu of options to assure income for people in every stage of life, tailored to the four policy pillars. All aim to fulfill the mission of social insurance to reduce and prevent economic insecurity caused by common life struggles like poverty, sickness, injury, and old age. 

Labor Policy
Protection Policy
Benefit Policy
Equity Policy

What is labor policy? 

  • Labor policy is the active regulation of the labor market, including the promotion of work and return to work. 
  • Labor is the primary way most households gain and sustain income. As such, the goal of labor policy is to help all people who are able to work find secure jobs that support dignified livelihoods.  

Challenges to Economic Security and Potential Solutions 

  • Work and hiring rules: Current work and hiring rules do not reflect 21st century demographic and economic realities. Overdue updates to these rules and better enforcement will improve access to employment for many.  
    • Certain reforms, for example, will give formerly incarcerated individuals and other blacklisted groups a fair shot at being hired. Others will make work viable for those who cannot currently work due to unpredictable schedules or unsafe working conditions. 
  • Job training: Improved job training and job matching programs will also bring increased and improved opportunities to those seeking work.  


  • Those who work must receive an adequate wage; one that covers basic life expenses and enables people to build economic security. Many current jobs pay insufficient wages, some of them even below-minimum wages. These compensation levels discourage work and fall short of meeting households’ needs. For example, a household with one full-time worker earning minimum wage can afford to pay $337 per month, while a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent would cost the worker, on average, $1,061. 
    • Raising wages, in concert with other pro-work policies, would better allow working households to live with dignity and make the investments necessary to bolster their economic security.  

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