By JOTF on 5/9/2014
by Jason Perkins-Cohen
This blog post is part of a group blogging event hosted by Living Cities and Meeting of the Minds about how cities could better connect their residents to economic opportunity.

We all want our cities to be safe places to live and work, but plans to increase public safety in metropolitan areas are failing our citizens. In misguided attempts to grow urban areas and their respective tax bases, policy and business leaders are shutting out huge swaths of the labor market through employment standards that all but exclude workers with a criminal record.

Employers naturally want to develop businesses that are safe for workers and customers. They also want to make hiring decisions that protect their financial security and minimize liability and loss. While these ideals are worthwhile, in their attempts to guarantee safety, many employers are evaluating a potential employee based, not on their merits as a worker, but on assumptions of a person’s future behavior. When employers automatically say “no” to people with criminal convictions, even minor ones, they are excluding a number of potentially great employees without any regard to a person’s skill set, attempts to improve their behavior or record of community contribution.
By JOTF on 2/4/2014
by Andrea Vaughn

Twenty-one years ago, a worker could be fired, demoted, or otherwise disciplined for taking unpaid time off work to recover from the birth of a child, to care for a seriously ill loved one, or to recover from an illness. Thanks to nine years of efforts by policymakers and activists, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has protected over 35 million workers since 1993, ensuring they were able to keep their jobs and health insurance while they weathered a health crisis or cared for a new baby.

 

Employers also benefit: workers who are able to take time away when they need it are more likely to return to their jobs. As a result, employers save between 17 and 31 percent of employees’ annual earnings when they don’t have to replace experienced workers. Employers also benefit from higher worker productivity and morale. By all accounts, the last 21 years of the FMLA represent incredible progress for workers.

By JOTF on 1/7/2014
by Andrea Roethke
The Maryland economy has moved forward in fits and starts over the past few years. As of November, the state finally recovered all of the jobs lost during the Great Recession. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been enough to keep up with the growth of labor force, and at the end of 2013, there were still nearly twice as many people unemployed as there were before the recession began in 2007.
By JOTF on 10/28/2013
by Andrea Roethke

Earlier this month JOTF released a new report exploring the workforce development landscape in Prince George’s County. While the county is faring well in many respects, local workers face a unique mix of challenges, with educational gaps at the top of the list.  Our report frames and qualifies these challenges, providing the context for what we hope will be a collaborative effort to identify and implement solutions.

 

Prince George’s County is part of a thriving regional economy, and the County’s $70,715 median income reflects this. Some of the overall statistics on the county can be deceiving, however, as they mask significant regional disparities. Communities inside the Capital Beltway have much higher rates of unemployment and poverty, for example.

By JOTF on 6/28/2013
by Sarah Breitenbach

So far 2013 has been a banner year for our construction training program, Project JumpStart. In just six short months we’ve marked some pretty significant milestones including the expansion of JumpStart to Baltimore’s west side, a graduation celebration for of our 20th class, and a new partnership with developers and the University of Maryland BioPark.

 

These achievements are huge feats for our seven-year-old program, which is designed to move Baltimore residents out of poverty and into high-wage jobs in the construction trades. Many of the people who come to our program are looking for a route out of low-skill, low-wage employment so they can support their families and be contributing members of our city society.

 

We’re always proud of our students, but our pride has been amplified this year by generous support from our partners, educators and the many, many folks who donated to JumpStart. In just a few short months our supporters have helped us raise nearly $5,000 through our first-ever online giving campaign.

By JOTF on 6/14/2013
by Sarah Breitenbach

In honor of Father’s Day, the Job Opportunities Task Force recently sat down with Joseph T.  Jones, Jr. president, founder and CEO, for the Center for Urban Families. JOTF works with CFUF to place Baltimore residents in Project JumpStart, our construction training program.

 

CFUF works with Baltimore fathers to strengthen urban communities by helping them reach stability and economic success. The organization recruits directly off Baltimore streets and works to ensure their clients are connected to opportunities for housing, employment and parenting resources.
By JOTF on 6/10/2013
by Jason Perkins-Cohen

Last week, the Baltimore City Council unanimously passed Council President Young’s bill to promote local hiring. The measure, which the mayor declined to sign, will take effect in December. It creates a standard by which some contractors will be required to hire city residents. Specifically, developers of projects that receive city contracts valued at $300,000 or more, or subsidies of $5 million or above, must fill 51 percent of the jobs created by those ventures with Baltimore City residents.

 

The vote was the culmination of a long battle over the bill’s promise and potential weaknesses. It’s not perfect. The legislation will apply to relatively few projects and waivers are available that could further reduce its impact. Still, it is important step toward linking the goals behind large-scale publicly funded projects and the need to get our residents working. Right now, Baltimore has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state, with more than 26,000 residents unemployed, and of the city’s unemployment insurance claims, 9.1 percent of those people work in construction.

By JOTF on 5/2/2013

by Caryn York
A new law championed by JOTF is giving some Marylanders a renewed shot at employment. Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the state’s “Ban the Box” legislation on May 2, making Maryland the ninth state to eliminate a requirement that prospective employees check a box on job applications to indicate whether they have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime. 

 

After four long years of urging Maryland lawmakers to remove the “box,” the victory is a welcome accomplishment. Today, more than one in four adults – roughly 65 million Americans – have some sort of criminal record. In Maryland, this means nearly 1 million adults face discriminatory barriers, such as the arrest/conviction question on state job applications, to securing stable employment. 

By JOTF on 4/30/2013
by Andrea Roethke

Imagine a Baltimore where every resident who wants a job has the skills to go get one. Imagine a workforce system where there are no dead-end jobs; just entry-level jobs that mark the first step on a career ladder. Imagine a community where nonprofits, government agencies, and employers are seamlessly aligned to connect residents to services to jobs.


Making this vision a reality is no small task, but every year we make strides in the right direction. Two years ago, the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) was formed with the goal of connecting residents to economic opportunity and revitalizing underserved neighborhoods. Since then, the collaborative of public, private, and nonprofit leaders have worked together to make investments in both human and physical capital, while at the same time advancing policy and systems change.

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