Our friends at the Opportunity Agenda today announced the release of their “2009 State of Opportunity in America” report. The report documents America’s progress in protecting opportunity for everyone who lives here, and finds that access to full and equal opportunity is still very much a mixed reality.
By analyzing government data across a range of indicators, this update of their 2006 and 2007 reports assesses our progress in attaining opportunity for our nation as a whole, as well as for different groups within our society. The report paints a vivid picture of opportunity at the dawn of the current economic crisis. But even before the downturn, different American communities experienced starkly different levels of opportunity.
The nation has made great strides in increasing opportunity in some areas and for some communities, but many groups of Americans are being left behind in ways that hard work and personal achievement alone cannot address.
These past few years have seen an economy in turmoil, impaired financial mobility, marginal prospects for educational advancement, and a broken health care system. These conditions thwart the nation as a whole as it strives to be a land of opportunity for the 21st Century. At the same time, women, people of color, and moderate- and lower-income individuals and families are being hardest hit and left behind as they face multiple barriers to opportunity.
These barriers are a problem not only for individuals and families, but also for our economy and nation as a whole. They also present an opportunity.
Addressing them now would translate to thousands more college graduates prepared for a 21st Century global economy, millions of healthier children in stronger communities, higher wages and greater productivity for American workers, far fewer mortgage defaults and bankruptcies, and far less strain on our social services and justice system. Conversely, the areas of improved opportunity revealed by our analysis represent a foundation and lessons on which to build as the nation works to restore the American dream for everyone who lives here.
To download this report, please visit opportunityagenda.org/stateofopportunity.