Jun 7, 2010

Expanding Baltimore’s Black Middle Class: Workforce Strategies for Advancing Prosperity

June 2010: A Joint Issue Brief from the Job Opportunities Task Force and Associated Black Charities

Working one’s way into the middle class is at the core of the American Dream.  Yet for many families – particularly those of color – this dream remains out of reach.

In Baltimore City, half of all African-American households earn less than $35,000 per year, and the prevalence of poverty among black city residents is almost double that for whites. In a city where nearly two-thirds of residents are African-American, this has a major impact on the health of the broader community.

This report describes the challenges and opportunities facing Baltimore’s African-American workforce, and provides concrete recommendations for advocates and policymakers.

A comprehensive, long-term strategy for expanding Baltimore’s black middle class must include three elements: expanding the number of good jobs within the city, building pathways to help low-skill workers access these jobs, and reducing employment discrimination.

The numbers show that African-Americans in Baltimore are struggling both in real terms and in relation to their white neighbors. Since nearly two-thirds of city residents are African-American, a thriving Baltimore hinges on the health of the African-American population.

By expanding economic opportunity for all, we can take a major step towards building a more dynamic city.

This issue brief has laid out three key avenues for action, and strategies for improving workforce outcomes within each:

  1. Expand the number of good jobs open to city residents.
  2. Increase the skills and education of local workers.

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