Foundations for a Just and Inclusive Recovery


The Just Recovery Survey measures the experiences and responses of U.S. workers—particularly underpaid and frontline workers, Black and Latinx workers, and women workers—amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and related recession, and gauges the interaction of these crises with structural racism and sexism. Color of Change, National Employment Law Project, TIME’S UP Foundation, and Worker Institute at Cornell collaborated on this research project to highlight the urgency of structural reforms that advance racial, gender, and economic justice in this moment and beyond, for communities that have been in struggle against unjust systems and policy decisions over generations. Read NELP’s policy recommendations related to Just Recovery Survey findings here.

Over the past year, the United States has faced a set of intersecting crises that have shaken our nation to its core. Times of crisis are accelerants of social change, and action by policymakers and other power holders must respond to demands for justice and inclusion, lest we further entrench inequities that have been deepening for years. Our survey results suggest that policymakers must directly confront the deeply rooted structural inequities that have long existed in this country.

A just recovery must:

  • Support workers and build worker power;

  • Hold accountable actors who perpetuate structural inequities; and

  • Develop cross-cutting strategies that take into account the challenges people are facing in all areas of their lives.

The Just Recovery Survey was administered in September and October of 2020 using a nationally representative sample (n=3,100) with an oversample of Black and Latinx respondents. Those included in the survey indicated that they were in the labor market or might rejoin it in the future. Our approach focuses on three key pillars of worker well-being and power: economic security, health and safety, and agency and voice. As the survey data show, these pillars interact with and reinforce one another, but, for many workers, they are undermined by racism, sexism, and other structural inequities.

This research is an offering in deep solidarity with workers and their intersecting fights for economic, racial, and gender justice across the country.

The Just Recovery Survey adds to a growing body of evidence pointing to the need for immediate interventions to curtail the effects of the pandemic and deeper structural reforms.


NELP has proposed solutions to support workers building power for a just and inclusive recovery, check out:

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About the Authors

Amity Paye

Chief Communications Officer, Color of Change

Sanjay Pinto

Fellow, The Worker Institute at Cornell ILR

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