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

COVID-Recession & Recovery

Beyond the Headlines: Digital Literacy
March 2020

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
November 2019

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.

Beyond the Headlines: The End of Work II
July 2019

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
January 2019

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).

Beyond the Headlines: Investment in Employee Training
November 2018

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.

Beyond the Headlines: Imagining a World-Class Workforce Development System for Our Region
July 2018

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.

Beyond the Headlines: A More Complete Understanding of Opportunity Youth in Seattle
April 2018

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.

Big Picture: Changing Poverty and Employment Outcomes in Seattle
January 2018

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.

How Poverty and Cognitive Biases can Impact Decisions and Actions: Using Research from Behavioral Economics and Psychology to Improve Workforce Development Services
July 2015

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.

Improving Career Navigation Services: Considerations for the Workforce Development Community in Seattle 
February 2015

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.

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