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By JOTF on 8/29/2016

By Lavanya Madhusudan, Policy Research Analyst

As recently noted in the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore City is proposing cuts to the Charm City Circulator free bus service, less than a year after expanding the Circulator’s Purple route and reversing a plan to eliminate the Banner route (“Cuts proposed again to Baltimore’s Charm City Circulator,” July 20, 2016).

As a daily patron of the Circulator’s Purple Route, and having occasionally used the Green and Orange routes, I can attest firsthand to the unique value of the Circulator. The Circulator is an asset to Baltimore City and represents a true public transport success story from which valuable lessons can be learned. Rather than cutting service, the City should work towards expanding this great resource.

By JOTF on 7/22/2016

Guest Blog by Chandra Kring Villanueva 

Commentary by Lavanya Madhusudan, Policy Research Analyst

Not every student has the opportunity to complete high school.  Yet most job opportunities that pay a living wage or start individuals on a career path require a high school diploma.  Sooner or later, individuals who were unable to obtain a high school diploma find themselves in need of this important credential.  It is a first step towards economic mobility, financial security and professional success. 

The following story highlights the incredible impact that obtaining this essential credential can have on one individual.  This story is shared with permission from Chandra Villanueva, a fellow member of the Working Poor Families Project, which is a national initiative focused on state workforce development policies.

By JOTF on 5/26/2016
by Caryn York, Senior Policy Advocate

Last week, Governor Hogan signed Maryland’s Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) into law. Established in 2015 by legislation, the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council (The Council) was tasked with analyzing ten years of state corrections and sentencing data to better understand who we have been sending to prison, for how long, and why. Representing a diverse perspective of criminal justice stakeholders that included legislators, judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, law enforcement, and advocates, the Council crafted solutions for Maryland that would hold offenders accountable while reducing the state's nonviolent incarcerated population. Simply put, the Council recommendations were based on data, research, evidence-based practices, and serious consideration of public safety.

By JOTF on 4/24/2015
Melissa Broome is being honored as a Working Family Champion of Change.
By JOTF on 5/9/2014
by Jason Perkins-Cohen
This blog post is part of a group blogging event hosted by Living Cities and Meeting of the Minds about how cities could better connect their residents to economic opportunity.

We all want our cities to be safe places to live and work, but plans to increase public safety in metropolitan areas are failing our citizens. In misguided attempts to grow urban areas and their respective tax bases, policy and business leaders are shutting out huge swaths of the labor market through employment standards that all but exclude workers with a criminal record.

Employers naturally want to develop businesses that are safe for workers and customers. They also want to make hiring decisions that protect their financial security and minimize liability and loss. While these ideals are worthwhile, in their attempts to guarantee safety, many employers are evaluating a potential employee based, not on their merits as a worker, but on assumptions of a person’s future behavior. When employers automatically say “no” to people with criminal convictions, even minor ones, they are excluding a number of potentially great employees without any regard to a person’s skill set, attempts to improve their behavior or record of community contribution.
By JOTF on 2/4/2014
by Andrea Vaughn

Twenty-one years ago, a worker could be fired, demoted, or otherwise disciplined for taking unpaid time off work to recover from the birth of a child, to care for a seriously ill loved one, or to recover from an illness. Thanks to nine years of efforts by policymakers and activists, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has protected over 35 million workers since 1993, ensuring they were able to keep their jobs and health insurance while they weathered a health crisis or cared for a new baby.


Employers also benefit: workers who are able to take time away when they need it are more likely to return to their jobs. As a result, employers save between 17 and 31 percent of employees’ annual earnings when they don’t have to replace experienced workers. Employers also benefit from higher worker productivity and morale. By all accounts, the last 21 years of the FMLA represent incredible progress for workers.

By JOTF on 1/7/2014
by Andrea Roethke
The Maryland economy has moved forward in fits and starts over the past few years. As of November, the state finally recovered all of the jobs lost during the Great Recession. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been enough to keep up with the growth of labor force, and at the end of 2013, there were still nearly twice as many people unemployed as there were before the recession began in 2007.
By JOTF on 10/31/2013
by Andrea Roethke

At JOTF we get a lot of calls from people who are out of work. Because of our name, people hope we will be the silver bullet that turns around their job search, pairs them with training to build a career, and helps them regain the dignity of a paycheck.  For a long time, we, like many other organizations, relied on a haphazard assortment of resources.  With so much happening in Baltimore, it wasn’t always easy to keep track of who offers what, who serves who, and how to get started.

That all changed a year ago and on Nov. 1 we celebrate the success of – our workforce training database geared toward all the people in Baltimore who need new skills to advance their careers and earn family-sustaining wages.

By JOTF on 10/28/2013
by Andrea Roethke

Earlier this month JOTF released a new report exploring the workforce development landscape in Prince George’s County. While the county is faring well in many respects, local workers face a unique mix of challenges, with educational gaps at the top of the list.  Our report frames and qualifies these challenges, providing the context for what we hope will be a collaborative effort to identify and implement solutions.


Prince George’s County is part of a thriving regional economy, and the County’s $70,715 median income reflects this. Some of the overall statistics on the county can be deceiving, however, as they mask significant regional disparities. Communities inside the Capital Beltway have much higher rates of unemployment and poverty, for example.

By JOTF on 8/6/2013
by Andrea Roethke

In just a few months the current General Educational Development tests will expire and be replaced with new exams. The 2014 GED test will be aligned with the Common Core standards that are now required in K-12 school systems across the country, and many in the field expect that the tests will become more rigorous. The test, which has traditionally been offered via paper and pencil, will also shift to being offered only by computer.

Since we first blogged about the issue last year, a lot of progress has been made toward answering key questions about the changes and plotting the course for providers working in the field. First, after the GED Testing Service announced that they would be raising the cost of the test to $120, many feared that low-income students would be priced out. To address the issue, the Maryland General Assembly approved funding to subsidize the cost for Maryland test-takers at the current rate of $45. As long as the subsidy remains in place, it will go a long way toward preserving accessibility of the GED test.

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