The JUST Report: It’s Not All About Money – American Workers Want Opportunity Too

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What makes a good job? It’s a question that’s driving many conversations today – from picket lines with auto employees and Starbucks baristas to C-suites and boardrooms across the country.

At CNBC’s 2023 Workforce Executive Council Summit this week, JUST Capital President Alison Omens joined moderator CNBC editor Susan Caminiti and multiple company executives for a panel discussion focusing on that very question. 

A C-suite leader from a major retailer explained that every company needs to deliver on fundamentals for workers, by providing a living wage, benefits, and safety. But she said there’s “much room for leadership” on something else workers want – opportunity. Meaning, the ability to climb the ladder from an hourly position to a salaried one, or the chance to start a strong career without necessarily having a college degree. 

Our polling, which Alison discussed, supports that insight. JUST’s research shows that Americans want three main things: a job that pays fairly and offers a local living wage; protects their health and well-being; and supports advancement, upskilling, and training – or as the retail company leader dubbed it, “opportunity.”

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults do not have a college degree – and so for millions of Americans, these “opportunity” investments from business leaders can mean the difference between living paycheck to paycheck or a stable, middle-class life. 

There’s much happening in this area. Just this month, IBM announced new skills training in climate technology for students in vulnerable communities. Visa launched new upskilling programs. Amazon highlighted the success of its apprenticeship programs. And Microsoft partnered with a local technical college to offer new training courses.  

Workforce opportunity is critical to our partnerships with companies and our mission overall. We’ll be tracking it closely. 

Be well,



In an on-air segment, CNBC’s Pippa Stevens covers JUST Capital’s 2023 Views on Business Survey Report. The report finds that Americans are increasingly skeptical of corporate America’s promises to do better. For example, when it comes to promoting an economy that serves all Americans, 91% of Americans agree it is important, but only 38% agree companies are doing well – a 53 percentage point divide. 

JUST Capital’s investor team pens an interesting analysis that finds that among negative earners in the Russell 1000, JUST leaders have outperformed laggards by almost 40% since January 2020.


(Nick Bunker/Indeed)

“What we’re really eager to see next year is does the decline in wage growth translate to lower inflation? There was the idea that the labor market was going to be a continuing source of fuel for higher inflation. [But] wage spiral doesn’t seem evident at all in this data. The concern is that maybe things start to stall out on the inflation side. And luckily, we haven’t seen that yet.”

  • Nick Bunker, Economic Research Director for North America at the Indeed Hiring Lab, points to a key finding from the Lab’s 2024 Jobs & Hiring Trends Report indicating that there’s no evidence of a wage-price spiral when it comes to inflation.   


Fortune reports that Bill Gates believes everyone will have an AI personal assistant in five years, and that it will fundamentally change the way people live and work. Gates sees this evolution in AI as going beyond pure productivity-boosting, saying that these “agents” could help generate a business plan or answer employee questions in a meeting. 

SAG-AFTRA has officially released the details of its latest union contract, and those around AI performers are particularly interesting. Rolling Stone reports that companies must request consent before making digital replicas of actors and must disclose how  the replica will be used. Not everyone is pleased with this deal. Some, like Justine Bateman, who was an AI advisor to the actor’s union, think that the deal leaves far too many loopholes that would allow studios to slowly push out real actors.

Airbnb has acquired GamePlanner.AI, its first acquisition as a public company, to help design full bespoke trips and stays for users based on previous interests


Honda and Hyundai have joined Toyota in raising wages for their U.S. workers and cutting down on how long pay increases take, fearing that union strikes will soon push past the midwest and into foreign auto manufacturers. 

CNBC reports that union workers at GM ratified the UAW’s new contract with the automaker. Union workers at Ford and Stellantis are expected to ratify the new contracts as of Thursday early evening – though the votes have been closer than expected. NPR digs into why some union workers are voting ‘no’ on the deal

A new Deloitte report highlights a significant disparity between C-suite leaders’ perceptions of worker well-being and the actual experiences of workers. Employee well-being has worsened across a number of dimensions, including physical, mental, social, and financial well-being, the report finds. 

According to a new Bloomberg Intelligence survey, 89% of investors believe using ESG metrics is now mainstream, despite the political pushes to do away with them, and C-suite executives feel they help shape a “more robust corporate strategy.” 

The Washington Post reports that the latest National Climate Assessment paints a grim picture: weather-driven disasters are happening far more frequently and are costing the U.S.  about $150 billion each year, on average.

The Wall Street Journal reports that thousands of unionized Starbucks workers have gone on strike for ‘Red Cup Day’, the company’s largest promotion every year, in order to progress labor talks. 

Citigroup CEO Jane Frasier announces the company’s first wave of layoffs on Wednesday, working from middle management down to the rank-and-file employees by February in a bid to try and pull the company out of a stock slump. 

The Harris Poll (in conjunction with EdAssist) found that 77% of Americans believe other forms of education like certifications and online courses are more useful than a traditional college degree, and that upskilling at a job is becoming a far more attractive benefit for many younger workers. 


One of the most revealing charts from our 2023 Views on Business Report shows what issues Americans want corporations to tackle, and if they see companies following up. Most importantly, while 91% of Americans want companies to push for an economy that serves all Americans, only 38% agree companies are doing well. Explore more of the results here. 

Have questions about our research and rankings?  We want to hear from you!