Let’s Target Infrastructure Jobs to Communities Most in Need

by Rich Stolz | October 4, 2011 12:14 pm

Today the Transportation Equity Network released a national report ranking the states based on how well they prepare and create job opportunities for low-income and minority residents and women on transportation infrastructure projects.

As pressure is building on Congress to respond to the President’s call for passage of the American Jobs Act, this report provides guidance to the states on approaches that can ensure that training and jobs go to local resident who need them most.

Unfortunately, most states are doing a poor job of using proven training programs to boost access to jobs in highway construction for minorities and women, though unemployment rates for minorities are nearly double those of whites, and female unemployment is ticking up while male unemployment is dropping.

The report says it best:

“If transportation investments are to fuel an equitable economic recovery, states must make robust use of these training programs to break down historical barriers and help build careers, lives, and communities.”

According to the report, the first analysis of its kind ranking all 50 states, the best performing states that filled jobs with trainees and apprentices were Hawaii, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Those states that did the best job recruiting women into training and apprenticeship programs were Maine, North Dakota and Vermont.  Those states that did the best job recruiting minorities into training and apprenticeship programs were Maryland, Georgia and Louisiana.  The report also lists those states that improved the most in these measures.

What made the difference?  Several states that saw significant improvement in the last decade were boosted by the work of community organizing groups.  For example, in Missouri and Illinois, State Transportation agencies partnered with groups like Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU), Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity (MORE2), and United Congregations of the Metro East (UCM) on major bridge projects that targeted 20% of workforce hours to on-the-job training for minorities, women and low-income individuals,  invested ½ of 1 percent of the total project budget in pre-apprenticeship training and recruitment of targeted groups, and involved a partnership agreement with community stakeholders.


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