Job Creation Strategies for Low-Income Populations

Nov 19, 2009

by Marcie W.M. Foster

One of the defining characteristics of the most recent recession is the degree to which job losses have been unequal across different demographic groups. A New York Times interactive tool that uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrates this phenomenon using data on how the  unemployment rate varies across sub-groups of Americans by gender, race, age and educational attainment. While the average rate of unemployed persons has recently hit 10.2 percent (October 2009), for some groups the rate of joblessness is near 50 percent. Groups faring the worst in the current recession include people of color, teenagers just entering the labor market and those with only a high school education or less.

This lack of employment can have lasting consequences. Skills and work habits deteriorate when workers are idle for extended periods. Children in unemployed households bear the burden of stress and constrained resources. And long-term career prospects of young people are diminished when they enter the labor market during times when no jobs are available. Communities with high unemployment cannot provide support structures that stabilize vulnerable families.

Federal Reserve officials have warned that a job recovery will be slow and may not result in robust hiring once the economy has recovered. Furthermore, low-income workers with multiple barriers to success may continue to have difficulty finding a job with a family-supporting wage once they are able to re-enter the workforce.

CLASP has developed six policy recommendations that would support a targeted approach to job creation intended to bolster the employment and education opportunities of low-income populations.

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