Policy & Practice | April 2022

aphsa insights By Brandy Whisman

There’s Room for Everyone at the Table: Leveraging Employment and Training to Close the Racial Wealth Gap

D emographics in the United States continue to shift toward a popu- lation that is more diverse than ever before. This growing diversity is a tremendous asset that can be used to foster economic recovery and growth. But disparities in education, training, and work opportunities, as well as sup- portive services, can create obstacles to accessing quality jobs with family sustaining wages for people of color. Quality jobs are critical to equity, supporting equitable compensation, providing advancement opportunities, and empowering employees to have an active voice in an organization. 1 Racial Equity Data Lab The National Equity Atlas developed the Racial Equity Data Lab. The Racial Equity Data Lab provides data to create powerful visualizations of community characteristics, including community comparisons. The Data Lab provides Tableau-ready data through workbooks for key topics, including housing, education, transportation, and wages. 2 These data, along with listening to the lived experiences of people of color, can be used to analyze what supportive services may be necessary. The Census Bureau “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2020 Report” highlights key income gaps across racial and ethnic groups. 3 In 2020, almost 30 percent of workers who are Black earned less than $24,999 annually, with only 16 percent of workers who are White

earning less than $24,999. One way to close the racial wealth gap is through equitable and accessible skills training and supportive services. How Can Federally Funded Programs Support Equitable Access to Quality Jobs? Supportive services help to alleviate barriers to full workforce participa- tion for underserved communities. Accessible public transit and child care are critical to addressing equity Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training (E&T) can leverage data to make decisions about the most impactful investments in supportive services that help mitigate and elimi- nate barriers to skills training and strengthen opportunities for people and inclusion in the workforce. Federally funded programs like

with low incomes to obtain quality jobs. Data, combined with human- centered design, are powerful tools that can be used to determine tailored supports that address unique needs such as transportation, housing insta- bility, child care, or other emergent The tool provides wage information in three categories (living, poverty, and minimum) for individuals and households with one or two working adults and zero to three children. These data can be used to track one of the key markers of a quality job: family- sustaining wages. Living Wage Calculator Produced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Living Wage Calculator is a tool that shows the amount of hourly wages needed to sustain a family in a given U.S. county.

See Everyone at the Table on page 30

Illustration by Chris Campbell

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