Issue Briefs


Expanding Baltimore's Black Middle Class: Workforce Strategies for Advancing Prosperity

June 2010: A Joint Issue Brief from the Job Opportunities Task Force and Associated Black Charities

Working one’s way into the middle class is at the core of the American Dream.  Yet for many families – particularly those of color – this dream remains out of reach.   In Baltimore City, half of all African-American households earn less than $35,000 per year, and the prevalence of poverty among black city residents is almost double that for whites. In a city where nearly two-thirds of residents are African-American, this has a major impact on the health of the broader community.

This report describes the challenges and opportunities facing Baltimore’s African-American workforce, and provides concrete recommendations for advocates and policymakers.  A comprehensive, long-term strategy for expanding Baltimore’s black middle class must include three elements: expanding the number of good jobs within the city, building pathways to help low-skill workers access these jobs, and reducing employment discrimination.

For more information, or to request a hard copy of the issue brief, contact Andrea Roethke at 410-234-8303.




A Young Workforce At Risk: Re-Connecting Out-of-School and Out-of-Work Youth in Maryland


More than 1 in 10 young Marylanders are both out-of-school and out-of-work.  These youth, between the ages of 16 and 24, are considered “disconnected”—lacking the social, academic, and employment connections that lay the foundation for a successful future.  Some are high school dropouts.  Others may be unsuccessful in making workforce connections due to family obligations, lack of marketable employment skills, substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration, disability, or difficulty aging out of the foster care system.

A new Issue Brief from the Job Opportunities Task Force explores the extent of youth disengagement in the state, and provides recommendations for re-connecting young Marylanders to school and work.  State and local leaders must act now to expand programs that help youth find their talents, build skills, and enter the stable career paths.  This includes second-chance on ramps for youth who have dropped out of high school, pathways into post-secondary education, and programs that emphasize the link between education and employment.  

JOTF has also created a series of local youth workforce profiles to accompany the new Issue Brief.  The profiles, available for Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, provide details on local youth employment, educational enrollment and attainment, and other selected indicators.  To find out more about the youth workforce in your community, follow the links below:

Baltimore City Youth Workforce Profile
Anne Arundel County Youth Workforce Profile
Baltimore County Youth Workforce Profile
Montgomery County Youth Workforce Profile
Prince George’s County Youth Workforce Profile

If you have questions about the profiles, or if you’re interested in finding data for a county not listed above, please contact Andrea Roethke at 410-234-8303.

This policy brief was produced through the support of the Baltimore Community Foundation.




The Facts on the Federal Recovery Act: The Impact on Low-Wage Marylanders & Principles for Implementation

Over the next two years, $3.8 billion is scheduled to flow into Maryland through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  A new report from the Job Opportunities Task Force (JOTF) describes how key provisions of the Act will benefit struggling low-wage and unemployed Marylanders.  The report cautions that while it is important to stimulate the economy by spending funds quickly, state and local leaders must ensure that funds are spent effectively, targeting workers with limited skills and job opportunities.


The report outlines provisions of the Recovery Act that provide direct assistance to Maryland residents, describes job creation expected to result from the Act, explains how the Act is helping the state close budget gaps, and touches on funding streams that Maryland will have to act on soon in order to access.  The report also highlights principles that state and local leaders should adopt to ensure an effective, transparent, and accountable implementation of the Recovery Act.


For more information contact Andrea Roethke at 410-234-8303.




Patching the Leaky Pipeline: Helping Low-Skill Marylanders Access & Succeed in College

Although Maryland has one of the nation’s highest proportions of residents with college degrees, the reality is that many students in the state struggle to make it through the education system and gain the academic skills needed to compete in today’s knowledge-based economy.


 A new issue brief from the Job Opportunities Task Force (JOTF) documents the challenges facing the large number of Marylanders who either drop out or fail to make a smooth transition from one academic level to the next. The report finds that more than half of all Marylanders in their prime working years—1.3 million local adults—lack a college degree, a basic credential for many good-paying jobs.


The issue brief highlights key problems facing many Maryland students, including affordability, difficultly completing developmental coursework, and the need for student supports. It also offers a series of recommendations for moving students of all backgrounds more smoothly through the post-secondary system and into the workforce.


For more information contact Andrea Roethke at 410-234-8303. 




Putting the Unemployment System Back to Work For Maryland's Economy

A huge portion of the state’s workforce is ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits, even though their wages are taxed. Overall, only one-third of workers who are unemployed in the state actually receive benefits. In a new issue brief, Putting the Unemployment System Back to Work for Maryland’s Economy, the Job Opportunities Task Force makes five recommendations that will help the UI system better serve workers, employers, and the state economy.


For more information contact Andrea Roethke at 410-234-8303.

Copyright 2011 Job Opportunities Task Force | Terms Of Use | Privacy Statement