Earlier this summer the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce along with their partners, the United Way of Cass-Clay, North of Normal, Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, and the FM AreaFoundation, released an incisive and comprehensive workforce study.
Some factors discovered by the study are of primary concern to the partner members of the North Dakota Economic Security and Prosperity Alliance.
The findings overlapping with NDESPA’s occur in the BUILD theme of the study. This theme deals with developing “a framework for financial self-sufficiency and upward mobility for workers in low-wage and basic-skill jobs” (p 13). This is a key component for the improvement of the workforce in the Fargo/Moorhead area because 45% of the employment opportunities in the area are low-pay, low-skill jobs.
The employment barriers for many workers discovered in the study are affordable housing, childcare, and transportation (p 10).
According to the study, of the homeless adults in the Fargo/Moorhead area a third of them are employed with 10% employed full-time. “Of those not working, a lack of transportation was the most common barrier to employment” (p 10).
The study also states that licensed childcare providers are meeting only 54% of the childcare needs in Fargo/Moorhead. The cost of childcare, at 9% of the median income of families with children, is also impeding many individuals’ ability to take jobs in the area. Shiftwork is also creating a demand for non-9-to-5 childcare that is currently not being met, as well (p 10).
Finally, transportation is keeping many potential employees out of the workpool. According to the study, many low-income workers are unable to afford a vehicle, and those that do own cars, the quality of the vehicle and the inability to repair one after a breakdown forces many to rely on public transportation. The reliance on public transportation with currently mis-matched routes and hours compared to available employment opportunities bars many from employment.
The fact that Fargo-Moorhead and its business community are looking beyond the needs of area employers to the needs of current and potential employees is encouraging. Next week the NDESPA blog will examine the solutions being presented in the workforce study for these identified issues.