The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the steepest economic downturn since the Great Depression. The onset of the pandemic caused regional unemployment claims to reach nearly 213,800 and experts predict the regional will not return to pre-pandemic job levels until 2025. While the full impact of the pandemic has yet to unfold, Black Indigenous and People of Color, women, immigrants, disabled individuals, younger, less educated, and lower-income workers have disproportionately suffered from the health and economic devastation caused by the pandemic.
Responding to a crisis of this magnitude will require unprecedented collaboration among multiple stakeholders
The COVID-19 crisis has also revealed serious flaws in the systems intended to serve and support people during difficult times. More than 48,900 are currently unemployed, a 121% increase from February 2020. Over the course of the last year, the number of regional residents living in poverty increased substantially. Thousands more are behind on rent, struggling to put food on the table, and running out of options. When you unpack the numbers, Black, Indigenous and People of Color, immigrants, women, and lower income workers are once again disproportionately bearing the brunt of the economic downturn and safety net failures.
Our Mission: To coordinate a regional workforce system that supports individual prosperity and business competitiveness
To return from the COVID-19 crisis as a stronger region, we must strengthen our commitment to those residents most impacted by the COVID crisis. We can’t go back to the way things were. The inequities highlighted by the crisis cannot be allowed to continue. This will require us to continue building partnerships with community-based organization and especially those offering culturally and population specific services. Our efforts must put racial equity and front-line workers at the center and bring decision making and solution building as close to the community as possible - allowing local voices to respond to local economic circumstances, priorities and needs. We need to continue to build connections beyond skills and address other barriers such as childcare, transportation and housing. We must support equitable economic recovery that is strategically responsive to the current economic context and promotes the creation of high-quality regional jobs.
Our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan (attached below) identifies four goals to support equitable economic recovery, build a more inclusive, coordinated, and adaptive regional workforce system, and foster a more equitable and prosperous future for our region. Our vision is to ensure that people have the skills and support they need to successfully engage, advance, and succeed in the labor market and employers have qualified employees to grow and thrive.