As the COVID-19 crisis continues, we at Seattle Jobs Initiative would like to take a minute to share our commitment to our community. While at its origin a public health issue, the economic and workforce impacts are profound. In King County alone, over 80,000 workers have already lost their jobs, and it is on pace for unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression.
As part of the regional response to the crisis, we immediately pivoted our efforts to support our partners and communities SJI serves to meet basic needs. Our efforts include:
- Partnering with the Seattle Office of Economic Development to support Neighborhood Business Districts in understanding the workforce system and how to best connect impacted employees to critical benefits.
- Supporting recently graduated students from our on-ramp programs with case management and navigation support to meet their needs.
- Collaborating with social enterprises to identify and try to fill gaps in basic services to the most vulnerable workers in our community.
While we are in the middle of the crisis, we continue to look forward to what needs to be done to support a regional and national recovery. SJI stands ready to support our workforce eco-system. We will continue to:
- Build robust on-ramp programs partnering with other Community-Based Organizations, our Community and Technical College System, and apprenticeship partners to create access to economic opportunity.
- Leverage our deep policy and research expertise to inform system-level responses that meet the needs of impacted workers and employers.
- Coordinate the WorkSource system response to identify and implement the best ways to scale up to meet the unprecedented demand by job seekers.
- Share our expertise beyond our region through our national network of workforce partners.
While it is important to assist workers who recently (and hopefully temporarily) lost their jobs, we must not lose sight of those individuals left behind from the Great Recession. Returning citizens, immigrants and refugees, communities of color, and persons facing homelessness will feel outsized impacts from this crisis. We must look to build a recovery with an equity lens that truly provides opportunity for all.
Our nation and our community have faced adversity and seemingly insurmountable challenges before. We have the strength, perseverance, and capacity to emerge from this crisis with a more robust, sustainable, and equitable society. We are all facing this fight together, and together we will win the day.
— Ryan Davis, Executive Director, and the SJI Team