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.
Our latest reports
Digitalization & Automation in the Construction Trades
In this paper, we explore the implications of the digital skill gap, introduction of automation, and Network Economy for the construction workforce. This analysis looks at construction employment as a whole in metropolitan Seattle, including residential, commercial, industrial, and heavy civil construction.
This research assesses the capacity of the Seattle/King County workforce system to support those in the most vulnerable position during the crisis and its aftermath to re-enter the labor market. This second brief in the COVID-Recession & Recovery series offers some guidance for how organizations and the system can successfully respond to the COVID-19 unemployment crisis.
COVID-19 and the Future of Work
This paper explores the Network Economy and its implications for the workforce and serves as a guide for policymakers who aim to build a more equitable and inclusive economy. More immediately, it can help inform
economic recovery workforce policies to ensure residents are prepared for these economic shifts and are connected to jobs in the future. Finally, while this research and analysis are focused on the Seattle area, the reader will find similar economic shifts occurring in other communities with attendant implications for the local workforce.
COVID-Recession & Recovery
In this brief, we focused on outlining the worker, occupations, and industries most impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown and subsequent recession. With so much to cover in this quickly evolving landscape, we will be publishing a three-part series done by SJI on behalf of the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development to inform the City strategies as it collaborates with the Workforce Development Council to plan our regional recovery from this unprecedented economic shutdown and recession.
Beyond the Headlines: Digital Literacy
Over the last 20 years, the use of information communication technology has increased in virtually all jobs. This digitalization of the workplace means that even the most basic work functions require some level of digital literacy.
Beyond the Headlines: Future of Work III
Automation is changing the nature of work. Despite a variety of predictions about what work will be like, there is general agreement about what skills are most necessary for success now and moving forward. Rather than technical skills, a broad set of essential skills that are centered on human interaction and adaptability—how a person works with an relates to others and new situations—will be in demand.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has long been the subject of science fiction and speculation – HAL 9000 to Wall-E – and has driven the latest resurgence in the discussion of the “end of work.” AI is computer programming made of algorithms (codes that direct the program) that adapt to the information they are given, so it “learns.” Because it learns, it has the capacity to take over tasks that up until now have required human thought. AI is already performing job tasks in careers formerly considered “safe” from automation, like customer service jobs, and could, in theory, replace journalists, accountants, and engineers.
Beyond the Headlines: The End of Work
The “end of work” has been a regular topic of discussion since the mid-1990s, sparking concern and even speculation about dystopian scenarios in which a large portion of the population is unemployable, aimless and destitute, replaced in every facet of life by some combination of robots and artificial intelligence (AI).
Recent reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) state that approximately 7.1 million job openings exist in the United States compared to 6.0 million unemployed workers. These circumstances, where there are more jobs than people to fill them, is making it harder for companies to attract talent. It is also making it harder for companies to retain employees. As such, many companies are increasing wages and offering improved benefits such as paying for college tuition. One benefit that has become increasingly important for retaining workers in the current economy is workplace learning.
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