Workforce Equity Initiatives | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Advancing Racial Equity in the North Texas Workforce

A new report will help guide United Way’s goal of creating lasting change for workers of color.

By many measures, Dallas-Fort Worth is an exemplar of economic vitality—yet for many residents, it doesn’t feel that way. Too few people, particularly people of color, do not have access to high-quality jobs in growing, knowledge-based industries. This is according to a new report that outlines workforce inequities in Dallas and Collin counties and recommends long-term strategies for communities to work together to address them.

The product of a United Way of Metropolitan Dallas partnership with national research and action institute PolicyLink and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the report lays out the challenges workers of color face in the local labor market. It also details how the communities can help them enter and advance in the D-FW workforce, says Andrea Glispie, program director for the United Way Pathways to Work program.

Highlights from the report include a number of critical facts:

  • People of color are the majority of the region’s workers, but they do not share equitably in its economic prosperity. Workers of color make up more than 60% of workers ages 25 to 64 in Dallas and Collin counties, but Black and Latinx workers are about twice as likely as their white counterparts to be economically insecure.
  • Racial economic exclusion hampers the region’s economic growth. If racial gaps in wages and employment for workers could be closed, our region’s GDP would increase by 35%. With racial equity in pay, the average annual income of Black workers would double; Latinx workers would fare even better.
  • The workforce is deeply segregated. Despite the growing diversity of the workforce in Dallas and Collin counties, workers of color are crowded in lower-paying and lower-opportunity occupations; white workers are overrepresented in many higher-paying professions.
  • North Texas has a shortfall of good jobs that do not require college degrees. Overall, only 40% of workers are in jobs that are stable, are not at risk for automation and pay family-sustaining wages. That number drops to just 12% for those in jobs that require only a high school diploma.


How United Way Is Tackling Workforce Equity

Last September, United Way unveiled Aspire United 2030, our 10-year goals aimed at strengthening education, income and health in the community. One of those goals is to increase by 20% the number of young adults in North Texas who earn a living wage. That goal, Glispie says, provides a North Star for Pathways to Work.

According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s living wage calculator, a childless adult living in Dallas County needs to make $15.98 an hour to cover basic expenses and have a little money saved for emergencies. This number jumps to $31.94 if that person has a child. People of color make up the lowest percentages of adults ages 25 to 34 earning a living wage in Dallas County.

When you increase the number of people who earn a living wage, it has profound effects in the community, Glispie says. The program she leads, Pathways to Work, is an initiative that brings together employers, funders and providers of training to help entry-level workers move up the career ladder by equipping them with job training to access good-paying jobs in construction, healthcare and IT. Launched in 2015, the program has so far helped more than 900 individuals through engagement with 73 partners.

However, job training and job placement doesn’t entirely solve the problem, Glispie says. Even with her experience in workforce development, she was surprised by the findings around persistent pay disparities even when education is controlled for.

“Education isn’t always the great equalizer. We’re not going to solve all of our problems just by equipping people with education and training. It’s an important first step, but we have to go deeper if we want to see parity in what people are making. And that really is looking at structural issues in the labor market, primarily systemic racism.” she says. “What we find is that white workers with only a high school diploma earn the same or more median wages as Black or Latinx workers with an associate degree, and that white workers with an advanced degree earn more than workers of color with advanced degrees, with the exception of Asian workers.”

During a recent week, Glispie and other stakeholders met to prioritize the recommendations in the report. The short-term plan focuses on skills-based hiring, retention and advancement strategies, as well as looking at data for existing education and workforce programs by race to understand how well the programs are working to help workers of color advance in the labor market.


How You Can Get Involved

At United Way, we’re leading the charge to improve education, income and health throughout our region. Through programs like Pathways to Work, we are working to put opportunity in the hands of all North Texans, regardless of race or ZIP code.

Interested in joining the team? Glispie says donating and sharing with others that you’ve done so is one fast and effective way to be part of the change.

This article was published on: Apr 20, 2021