The confluence of public and private benefits among low-wage workers in the US

Wednesday 12 October 2022 (13:00-14:00)

Navigating cliffs, coverage gaps, and financial shocks amidst employment precarity

Mathieu Despard, Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, University of North Carolina Greensboro, USA

Alarmed by the financial stress that is common among workers, US companies are showing rising interest in how to promote employee financial well-being. A market of digital financial products and services has emerged offering a new generation of benefits such as financial management apps, earned wage access, and small-dollar loans. For low-wage workers, these responses divert attention away from underlying sources of financial stress including public benefits cliffs, health insurance coverage gaps, income volatility, and wages insufficient to meet living expenses.

Dr Despard will review key findings from recent studies on workplace benefits and employment precarity and discuss public policy and corporate practice implications concerning the fragmented and "patchwork" nature of public and private benefits within the context of economic populism and the future of work. 

Mathieu Despard is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, a Faculty Director at the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, and a member of the Academic Research Council of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Mat conducts research on financial wellbeing and economic mobility among low- and moderate-income households and the intersection of financial well-being and health. He received his MSW and PhD degrees from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.