The Need

More than three-quarters of the jobs lost during the Great Recession were those held by workers with a high school degree—while 99% of jobs added during the recovery went to workers with at least some college education1

Adults with only a high school diploma are 50% more likely to live in poverty than those with some college or a two-year degree.2

In California alone, more than 800,000 adults are unemployed, and many of those have been unemployed for more than six months. Nationally, 21% of unemployed workers qualify as long-term unemployed. Millions more in California and across the country qualify as working poor—they have jobs, but don’t earn a family-sustaining wage.3

Unemployment rates for black (6.6%) and Latinx (5.1%) Californians are substantially higher than that among white (4.2%) residents, and there also is a substantial gap in median household income.4

White and Asian Californian adults are far more likely to hold bachelor’s degrees or higher (42.5% and 51.1% respectively) than their black and Latinx peers (24% and 12.2% respectively).5

Even among the college educated, about 40% of recent graduates nationwide are underemployed, working in positions that don’t require their level of training. And many of those have taken on debt to obtain their degrees.6

Worker protections and our education and training systems have not kept up with our rapidly changing economy. They are not designed to support low-wage workers, especially people of color, formerly incarcerated people, immigrants and gender non-conforming people who frequently face the biggest barriers to employment in family-supporting jobs.

All of us in the Bay Area are impacted as our region becomes more homogeneous, inequitable and polarized. This includes Bay Area employers, who stand to lose as working people are forced to move outside of the area. The time is now to collectively reimagine how our region meets our labor needs while creating economic opportunity for all of our residents.

All data courtesy of Project Signal’s January 2019 report

1. ”America’s Divided Recovery,” Georgetown University, 2016 
2. “Path to Employment: Maximizing the Impact of Alternative Pathways Programs,” Tyton Partners, 2017 
3. “The Working Poor in California,” Public Policy Institute of California, 2019
4. Employment Development Department, State of California, 2019
5. U.S. Census Bureau, 2019 
6. “The Labor Market for Recent College Graduates,” Federal  Reserve Bank of New York, 2019