In Philadelphia, efforts to increase educational attainment must address racial income gap
In March, President Joe Biden presented his $ 2 trillion American employment plan, which works to renovate the country’s infrastructure and accelerate our economic recovery by putting people to work. Far-reaching, the plan addresses historic discrimination, climate change, broadband access, and workers’ rights – not to mention building and repairing roads and bridges.
Biden’s infrastructure proposal comes as experts grapple with a comprehensive workforce development strategy that prepares people without a college degree for the ‘future of work’ – a potential impact of artificial intelligence and the automation of jobs, skills and wages.
To cope with these impacts, many have pushed for a broader graduation from university. While earning a college degree is important, it alone is not a sufficient guarantee of equitable outcomes and may distract from deeper labor market issues than nonprofit initiatives. can not solve.
This report focuses on the Philadelphia metropolitan area to show that although college level is associated with increased wages, racial disparities persist for black workers at all levels of education. Philadelphia is an important case study because of its marked divisions between the sector of the knowledge economy concentrated in the inner city district and the remnants of industrial and manufacturing might on the outskirts of the city.
The Philadelphia Labor Market Study demonstrates that the goal of increasing university education must be explicitly linked to efforts to close racial income gaps, including efforts to eliminate discrimination in employment. . Based on our review of the U.S. Jobs Plan, we believe the proposal can help by creating well-paying federal jobs and stimulating investment in marginalized communities, which can strengthen physical and social infrastructure and create a positive feedback loop that invites more private sector investment and production.
By protecting and empowering workers in predominantly underprivileged neighborhoods – black, Latino or Hispanic, efforts to raise college levels will become more effective in achieving the real goal: not just a more educated labor pool, but middle class wages for a growing share of workers. .
Peripheral Philadelphia Communities Suffer From Continued Divestment
The future of work is one where more jobs will require technical training or a college degree, as manufacturing jobs that once provided wages to the middle class are quickly becoming automated or transferred. The American Jobs Plan represents a 10-year bridge that will provide families with a stable income while helping individuals acquire the skills they need to thrive in the future.
Jobs in infrastructure provide economic and educational opportunities (through training) to those without a post-secondary degree. Low-income families – especially those from historically marginalized groups – need these opportunities. Racism and location-based discrimination not only deprived blacks of education and employment opportunities, but also eroded the infrastructure in which they live.
For example, despite the large number of colleges and universities in Philadelphia, only 28% of its residents aged 25 and over hold a bachelor’s degree. In the downtown area, which has restaurants, colleges and a thriving arts scene, three in four residents have university degrees. But in Philadelphia’s formal industrial hubs on the outskirts, where black residents suffer from years of persistent economic disinvestment and intergenerational poverty, enrollment rates are below 25 percent.
Philadelphia is increasingly stratified based on race, geography, and education. Stranded neighborhoods such as Kensington (which is in the center of The opioid crisis in Philadelphia) have not received the same level of investment or support for the transition to the knowledge economy. In 2017, 26% of city dwellers (nearly 400,000 people) lived below the poverty line, according to to the Pew Charitable Trusts. As this study notes, this poverty level is among the highest of any city in the United States and has remained stable even as national poverty rates have fallen. The Latino or Hispanic and Black populations of Philadelphia are much more likely to experience poverty, as shown in Figure 1 below.
Meanwhile, Figure 2 shows that in the absence of an intentional infusion of jobs from the U.S. Jobs Plan, some of the largest occupational sectors of Philadelphia prime-age workers are job-oriented. knowledge economy in sectors such as management, health and education blue) and away from industrial economy jobs such as transport, construction and maintenance (in orange).
Without a fair focus on raising wages, a college degree is not enough
The non-profit association Diploma! Philadelphia cream works to increase college success, especially among blacks and Philadelphia veterans. It offers workshops and events to provide residents with the information they need to continue their education. The organization also partners with local colleges and universities, nonprofits, workplace agencies, and employers to help adults find pathways to employment.
While collaboration with the nonprofit sector is essential to create pipelines of talent, it must be supported in a way that addresses racial injustices in education and the labor market, with tangible investments that provide opportunities for development. well-paid jobs and improve material conditions.
Even with a college degree, the wages of black workers in the Philadelphia metro area are lower than those of white workers. As our colleagues Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman wrote, “Black and Latino or Hispanic workers earn less than white workers with equivalent education and experience.” Structural racism pushes black workers into lower paying occupations, and their incomes in these occupations are lower than their white counterparts. As Figure 3 details, black and Latino or Hispanic workers face a wage penalty at every point on the graduation spectrum. These disparities are so shocking that the average black worker with a college degree earns little more than the average white worker. without A degree. For bachelor’s degree holders, the premium for white workers is almost $ 25,000 in additional annual income compared to black and Latino or Hispanic workers.
Whether or not this points to a systemic lack of pay equity in comparable jobs in sole proprietorships, it is certain that black workers in Philadelphia are excluded from high-growth occupations even with a bachelor’s degree. Our analysis reveals that even with a degree, black workers are overrepresented in service and support roles and underrepresented in management roles, as shown in Figure 4.
Federal infrastructure investments and jobs can help close the racial income gap
A college education raises everyone’s wages, but as we’ve shown, getting a college degree alone won’t close the racial income gap in cities like Philadelphia. Rather than believing in the myth that the private sector will solve the market failures it has helped perpetuate, we need to embrace public investment as the path to more equitable outcomes.
While standard macroeconomic textbooks often warn that public investment can crowd out private investment, milestones such as the space race and, more recently, the development of the COVID-19 vaccine have shown that public investment can also invite new investments and lead to the invention of new technologies. Biden’s call for the creation of innovation hubs at historically black colleges and universities exemplifies the vision of using public investment to drive economic growth by connecting resources to people and places that haven’t had as much access.
In addition to generating the positive externalities associated with public investment, the public sector can also help reduce disparities by creating federal jobs. The public sector has historically provided stable pathways into the middle class for black Americans during times when private sector opportunities were limited due to racism. Today, one in five black workers is employed in the public sector, according to the Center for American Progress. And thanks to strong union coverage, federal workers of color are experimenting reduced racial resentment of their white colleagues, are protected from sexual harassment and have Best salaries.
Biden’s Strategy of Linking Expanded Federal Employment Opportunities with ‘Greening’ the Economy May Improve Worker Outcomes and in the built environment. This can lead to even greater economic growth and invite even more private investment while ensuring climate resilience, especially for vulnerable communities.
Education, investment and healing from a breakup in Philadelphia
There are few American symbols as significant as the Liberty Bell, located in the heart of Philadelphia. Its inscription, taken from the King James Bible, is a moving call to “proclaim freedom throughout the earth to all its inhabitants”. For the City of Fraternal Love, this appeal has a particular resonance to recall the need for solidarity between citizens who are equal before the law.
There is a divide in Philadelphia rooted in geography, education, class, and race – a divide that separates the places and people that thrive from those that have been abandoned. The trail of racism – coupled with a shameful lack of public investment – has led to a slowdown in the growth of marginalized communities as well as the economy as a whole. Even as black workers in Philadelphia pursue their education, they still find themselves excluded from high-growth industries and well-paying jobs. We cannot continue to expect university graduation or skills development to be a silver bullet when so many metropolitan and regional economies are not structurally sound in the allocation of resources and resources. opportunities.
Instead of tinkering around the edge of the market focusing exclusively on improving university education, cities like Philadelphia need a real investment in underprivileged communities. The US Jobs Plan could ensure investments, mend divisions, unleash new innovations and improve outcomes for all.