SJI conducts and broadly shares focused labor market research and tools to help ensure that individual and organizational decisions on education, training and career pathways align with labor market realities. We are specifically interested in uncovering unmet demand in the local labor market for workers to fill jobs that pay a living wage but do not require a B.A., and are thus accessible to low-skill residents typically with some additional education.
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By most standard measures, Seattle’s economy has experienced significant growth in both wealth and opportunity. Over the past decade, Seattle has added 220,000 jobs and is now home to thirty-one Fortune 500 companies. Among the forty largest metro areas in the United States, Seattle’s 2016 GDP per capita of $86,889 was the fourth highest. Unemployment in the Seattle region sits at 3.1%, lower than the national rate.
Opportunity youth have been shown to contribute to declining economic and community conditions due to lost productivity, lost revenue, increased demand for welfare services and crime-related expenditures. This Beyond the Headlines makes recommendations on how to further research the opportunity youth population in Seattle and design higher quality solutions.
Seattle has experienced exceptional prosperity over the past few years. This prosperity has benefited the city in many ways. However, it has also resulted in growing inequality, gentrification, and homelessness. Between 2012 and 2015, Seattle reported a 9% increase in the number of individuals living below poverty and a 14% increase in the number living in deep poverty. Seattle is an outlier in these figures when compared to Denver, San Francisco, and the United States as a whole.
Middle-Wage Jobs in Seattle/King County, February 2017
In 2017, Seattle Jobs Initiative produced the Middle-Wage Jobs in Seattle/King County 2017 Update. This brief presents information about the income earned by residents of the Seattle/King County region, as well as the amount of money it takes to live in this area, to inform our definition of a middle-wage job. Furthermore, the brief identifies middle-wage jobs that are in-demand in the region, including the gender and racial make-up of workers in those positions.
In the workforce field, participants’ choices or behaviors that harm their ability to be successful in
school or work are often attributed to a lack of soft skills, motivation, or work ethic. While individual
responsibility cannot be ignored, we also need to consider how the unique circumstances and context of
poverty and other cognitive biases can contribute to an individual’s actions. Behavioral economics and
psychology research point toward some interventions that workforce development practitioners can use
to address some of the barriers presented by poverty and human biases.
The shift towards longer-term services and career pathways has been accompanied by a change in
how some in the workforce development community frame the educational and employment services
provided to individuals. While workforce development organizations have typically used language
related to case management, wraparound support services, and job placement to describe their
services, more workforce programs today refer to part of what they do as career navigation.