The State Workforce Development Board created the Minority Unemployment and Outreach Standing Committee to address disparities in the minority unemployment rate in Iowa. According to the latest Census information, Iowa’s statewide unemployment rate was 3.9 percent, while African Americans had an unemployment rate of 14.2 percent, Native Americans had a rate of 11 percent, Asian Americans had a rate of 5.3 percent (other pacific islanders had a rate of 13.6 percent) and Hispanic Americans had a rate of 8.1 percent for the same time period.
Former State Representative Wayne Ford is credited with bringing this issue to the State Workforce Development Board and helping in the development of the group’s goals and agenda. The goal of the subcommittee is clear and measurable: to reduce unemployment in minority communities by five percent (or to the state average) in five years.
Four counties have been identified as pilot communities: Polk, Dubuque, Black Hawk and Pottawattamie.
These counties were selected based on having high concentrations of minority residents and unemployment rates. Listening tours will be held, which will provide opportunities for members and leaders of the communities to gather a broad perspective and identify connections and influences within communities. A strategic plan will then be developed that aligns with the Future Ready Iowa Alliance’s recommendations to the Governor. To meet the goal of the Future Ready Iowa initiative, all Iowans need to be able to obtain the education and soft skills necessary to take advantage of the employment opportunities available in Iowa.
Read a new report published by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce regarding Latino educational and economic progress: Latino Education and Economic Progress: Running Faster but Still Behind.