New research highlights racial inequities in the Chicago area workforce and proposes recommendations for equitable economic recovery

A strategic framework for advancing workforce equity across the Chicago region

January 26, 2021 11:00 AM EST

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CHICAGO, Jan. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report shows that in the Chicago metropolitan region, as in the rest of the nation, deep racial inequities are built into the regional economy and the ongoing pandemic is exacerbating the impact. The report uses disaggregated data to identify workforce equity strategies that should be implemented to foster broad economic prosperity.

Advancing Workforce Equity in Chicago: A Blueprint for Action, released today by the National Equity Atlas (a partnership between PolicyLink and the USC Equity Research Institute) with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance, Burning Glass Technologies, and JPMorgan Chase, highlights stark realities for workers in the Chicago region. 

Occupational segregation is stark, and the growth of good jobs over the next ten years will be concentrated among White workers. Just two out of ten occupations projected to add the most Black workers and none of the ten occupations projected to add the most Latinx workers are good jobs.

Deeply entrenched racial inequity cost the region $136 billion in unrealized GDP in 2018 alone. Disparities in the system are felt by the whole region, and workers of color are bearing the burden.

"Across our national network of employers, workforce development boards, training providers, and community partners, the situation mirrors what this data reveals: Racial inequities are entrenched in all aspects of the workforce system," said Amanda Cage, president and CEO of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. "To ensure the system works for everyone, we need to start fixing these issues now."

In support of building a thriving and inclusive workforce, the report offers recommendations for workforce stakeholders in the Chicago region, including the following:

  • Use sector-based strategies to get more workers of color into good jobs by building career paths from entry-level jobs to good jobs that meet the needs of employers and buoy the regional economy.
  • Encourage public policy that raises the floor on job quality in terms of wages, benefits, and worker protections.
  • Support workers of color to take advantage of job opportunities by expanding access to childcare, transportation, and safe, affordable housing.
  • Ensure workers are part of the conversation and have a voice.

"We look forward to collaborating with our broad base of stakeholders to center the voices and stories of workers in our ongoing mission towards workforce equity," said Adrian Esquivel, deputy director at the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance – the local partner of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

"Chicago faces persistent racial gaps in access to good jobs and opportunities for career advancement," said Owen Washburn, vice president of global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase. "Data-driven insights and collaboration are critical to driving a more equitable recovery and inclusive economy and are a part of JPMorgan Chase's commitment to advancing racial equity and preparing people for the future of work."

The report, data, and analysis can be found at

Advancing Workforce Equity in the Chicago: A Blueprint for Action was developed through a partnership of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, The Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance, PolicyLinkUSC Equity Research Institute, and Burning Glass Technologies, with support from JPMorgan Chase.


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SOURCE The National Fund for Workforce Solutions

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