New research highlights racial disparities in the workforce in Dallas and Collin Counties
In collaboration with National Equity Atlas (a partnership between PolicyLink and the USC Equity Research Institute), Burning Glass Technologies, and JPMorgan Chase, Pathways to Work released Advancing Workforce Equity in Dallas and Collin Counties: A Blueprint for Action. The report looks at the workforce challenges facing people of color in the Dallas and Collin labor markets and provides actionable strategies for achieving equitable wage and employment outcomes for all workers.
Key findings from the report include:
People of color are already the majority of the region’s workforce, but they are not sharing equitably in its economic prosperity. Workers of color make up more than 60 percent of the workforce between the ages of 25 and 64 years in Dallas and Collin counties, and about three-quarters of young workers under the age of 25 years. However, Black and Latinx workers are about twice as likely as their White counterparts to be economically insecure.
Racial economic exclusion hampers the region’s economic growth. In 2018 alone, racial gaps in wages and employment for working-aged people cost the region more than $115 billion in lost GDP. Increasing equity would allow the average annual income of Black workers to double from about $37,000 to $74,000, and the region’s GDP would increase by 35 percent.
The workforce remains deeply segregated. Despite the growing diversity of the Dallas and Collin counties workforce, workers of color are acutely crowded in lower paying and lower opportunity occupational groups, while White workers are overrepresented in many higher paying professions.
People of color—especially Black and Latinx residents—face systemic and structural barriers to opportunity. Equity in higher educational attainment is essential, but insufficient, to achieve racial economic inclusion. On average, White workers with only a high school diploma earn the same median wages as Black or Latinx workers with an associate degree ($20/hour).
Systemic inequities in the social determinants of work—factors that strongly influence access to good jobs, such as education, health and health care, transportation, housing quality and affordability, and access to reliable childcare—reinforce racial inequities in workforce outcomes. Black and Latinx workers in Dallas and Collin counties are more likely than other groups to experience housing-cost burden, childcare-cost burden, and transportation challenges that inhibit access to opportunity.
The COVID-19 pandemic is compounding pre-existing racial inequities and economic inequality and is likely to further disrupt the labor market by accelerating automation and digitalization. The early recovery of jobs lost since the pandemic hit has been concentrated in jobs that require little formal preparation. Black and Latinx workers face significant, disproportionate risk of job loss due to automation.
In response to these inequities, the Pathways to Work Advisory Group has developed this set of strategies to bring about greater workforce equity. These recommendations draw from experts representing business, civic, education, nonprofit, philanthropic and workforce sectors and we crafted over several months utilizing designed thinking techniques.
Increase the number of good jobs available to frontline workers of color.
Increase the number of workers of color in pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships so that they have pipelines to occupations in industries where they are underrepresented.
Use skills-based hiring, retention, and advancement strategies to reduce occupational segregation fueled by hiring bias and degree inflation.
Invest in community-based digital literacy, adult literacy, and integrated learning programs to remove barriers to entry and advancement in the labor market.
Increase investment in wraparound supports like accessible childcare, affordable housing, and efficient transportation options to facilitate labor market advancement and educational attainment of workers of color.
Disaggregate participant outcomes from education and workforce programs by race to identify the workforce development interventions that help workers of color succeed in the labor market.
Align workforce development initiatives and worker rights projects to improve workers’ basic protections and increase opportunities for advancement.
Strengthen coordination between the workforce development and housing systems to reduce housing burden for workers of color and to ensure they can access opportunity jobs.
The report outlines specific steps that employers, funders, and community-based organizations can take to advance these recommendations. In the coming months, the Pathways to Work Advisory Group will develop implementation plans that encourage these key stakeholders to act.
Read the report here.