A MIAMI THAT WORKS FOR ALL

After two years of research, outreach and listening, Labor Miami emerges.

It was an unseasonably hot day in February 2020 as I hopped into a Lyft to get back to our office in Downtown Miami. As I shut the door and buckled my seat belt, Laura welcomed me into her car and, after offering me some gum and mints, we began chatting about her experience in Miami.

As we exchanged stories through the rearview mirror that day, we talked about how much Miami had changed throughout the years. Cruising down Brickell Avenue and under the shadows of the booming high rises and cranes, Laura could not help but comment on how many of her siblings had left the city due to rising housing costs and the ever-present challenge of finding high-paying, high-quality jobs. There was no doubt, Laura said, that she too would be following the footsteps of her brothers given that, as a teacher and Lyft driver, there simply was no way she could afford to call Miami home any longer.

The story that Laura shared is not unique – it is the unfortunate truth of far too many residents of Miami-Dade County who, despite being employed, are having trouble making ends meet since wages have not kept up with the cost of living in our region. For those that are out of work, finding a good job that pays both a living wage and require less than a bachelor’s degree is a difficult task, even though Miami is seeing a rise in jobs that pay well and are accessible.

It is no surprise, then, that Laura has faced an uphill battle in finding a sustainable, living-wage job. And knowing how profoundly economic disparities increase for women and people of color, we have a tremendous responsibility to take action.

While some sectors are recovering – albeit slowly – from the devastating economic impact of COVID-19, the toll has been especially heavy on industries where a high percentage of women are employed. As noted by the National Women’s Law Center, it could take more than two years for women’s employment to return to pre-pandemic levels because the industries women worked in were hit the hardest. Furthermore, nearly 70% of working mothers have found it difficult to balance working and family during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Locally, the Miami Times reports that the tourism and hospitality workforce in Miami – which is predominantly a women of color immigrant workforce – is nearly 30% down from pre-pandemic levels. And as workers consider career switches, they must determine what those pathways are and, if needed, where they might find the necessary training to pivot their career according to local education and business leaders.

As our community seeks to create a labor market that empowers workers and connects employers to our region’s booming talent pool, there is an undeniable need to connect Miamians to the resources that will expand their employment horizons and economic futures. To find sustainable solutions to this issue, we at The Miami Foundation have been meeting with residents, business owners, and community partners to determine what the greatest needs are in Miami for workers and business owners alike. And with increased urgency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we began to consider the many resources and assistance programs that could support our workers and businesses past these difficult times.

After nearly two years of deep research and active listening, The Miami Foundation and our partners have built LaborMiami.org to bridge this information gap and present opportunities for growth in Miami.

The Labor Miami tool offers resources that help students, job seekers, and entrepreneurs on their employment journey. Going beyond the typical job board, LaborMiami.org can help students and job seekers determine their career paths by providing up-to date labor statistics and highlighting up in coming industries. Similarly, by providing up-to-date contacts, business owners can directly email organizations and local agencies to receive technical assistance to grow their business.

Whether you are a rising senior at Miami Dade County Public Schools looking for local educational programs that will prepare you for a job in a growing field, a job seeker that needs support with resume writing and interview prep to land that living wage job or a business owner in Hialeah who is searching for marketing support to reach new customers, LaborMiami.org is here to help.

It is our hope that any Miami resident can find support and inform their career path with this portal. We need to make it easier for people to make informed decisions about what careers to pursue and where to find workforce and small business resources. At the same time, it is important to consider the barriers that are often faced by Black and brown workers – like occupational segregation, discrimination, and higher unemployment rates– acknowledging that policies and solutions should center equity and justice to overcome those systemic barriers to prosperity in Miami. The Miami Foundation is committed to collaborating with our partners to make sure that LaborMiami.org is part of a broader effort to challenge structural disadvantages in our local economy and empower workers, particularly women and people of color.

As I think back to the ride with Laura, I hope that Labor Miami could help her find the resources she needs to stay and thrive in Miami.   

 

De’Sean Weber is the Resilience Manager at The Miami Foundation. 

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