Worker Voices

About the research

Capturing the full picture of the labor market means looking beyond the numbers to consider the experience of everyday workers and job seekers. Worker Voices provides a unique view into how job seekers and workers in lower-wage roles navigated the labor market at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and through recovery—and how it changed what they expect from a job. Learning about these workers’ first-hand experiences can provide depth and breadth to our collective understanding of economic conditions and labor market dynamics.

Quotation marks

“These past two years, I’ve been laid off from work many times due to the COVID pandemic. I was interested in the title, ‘The worker’s voice’, because it makes me think we have a voice. The voice of those who are not heard. I felt the urge to share.” — Worker Voices participant

Quotation marks

“We want certain benefits, we want certain hours, certain schedules, and before the pandemic, we were not like that. That is, what they gave us, we accepted because we need the work. And after the pandemic we realized … work sometimes needs us more.” — Worker Voices participant

Quotation marks

“And I think during the pandemic—it kind of flipped the tables a little bit … I know that I can bring a lot to the table. Are you going to uphold your end of the half as an employer? So at least for me, it gave me a different perspective of …don’t settle for less.” — Worker Voices participant

Worker Voices
2023 Report

How did workers in lower-wage roles and job seekers without a bachelor’s degree experience the labor market during the pandemic? To find out, the Federal Reserve held virtual focus groups across the country from May to September 2022.

Worker Voices deep dives coming soon

Conversations with Worker Voices focus group participants inspired deep dives into specific topics based on the experiences and perspectives these workers shared. Look for forthcoming briefs on these special topics.

  • What workers expect in terms of job quality
  • Barriers that workers have faced in finding a job
  • Things workers are doing to improve their employment outcomes
  • Self-employment and entrepreneurial aspirations
  • Lessons learned on engaging with community-based partners and research participants

How your insights help us at the Federal Reserve

How your insights help us at the Federal Reserve

Every once in a while, the Fed may invite you to answer a survey, join a roundtable, or be part of a focus group. Here's why we're knocking at your…

What are workers thinking in 2022?

What are workers thinking in 2022?

Businesses tell us they're having a tough time hiring and retaining workers. Do people not want to work or is something deeper going on? We're conducting focus groups with workers…

Female manufacturing worker on assembly line


We are grateful for everyone who contributed to Worker Voices.

Thank you to the individuals who shared their insights and perspectives. This research reflects your lived experiences.

We also thank the organizations that provided valuable resources, information, and research.

Finally, we recognize the Worker Voices team for your contributions.