Baltimore Area Jobs and Low-Skill Job Seekers: Assessing the Gap

March 1999 / Abell Reports / Community Development, Workforce Development

Creating a comprehensive workforce development strategy focused on low-skill jobless and underemployed populations and the jobs they might attain in the Baltimore metropolitan region.

Metropolitan regions—cities and their surrounding areas—are the geographic units that function and compete in the national and global economies. In each region, the city serves as the hub of business, finance,  technology, education, and culture. The city’s ability to fill this role has a major impact on the vitality and prosperity of the entire region.

The most significant problem facing the Baltimore metropolitan region is the concentration and extent of joblessness and poverty in Baltimore City and their social and economic consequences. If we in metropolitan Baltimore fail to address vigorously our problems of unemployment and underemployment, and if we fail to respond to the opportunity presented by the need for more skilled labor, we will doom the Baltimore region to a core with enormously costly economic and social ills: low school performance, adolescent pregnancy, high infant mortality, child abuse, drug addiction, crime, blighted lives, and hopelessness.

The Greater Baltimore Committee, in its May 1997 Regional Forum on Economic Development and Public Safety, identified as a high priority the need to develop a comprehensive regional strategy for workforce preparedness and mobility. An effective strategy must be based on meaningful, accurate information. We need to know:

The size and characteristics of the pool of low-skill jobs, and how these jobs are distributed across industries and spatially across the Baltimore metropolitan area. What is the wage range, and which jobs pay wages that can support a family? What are the skill and education requirements of these jobs?

  • The size and characteristics of the pool of people looking for low-skill jobs, and how this population is distributed across the metropolitan area.
  • The size and characteristics of any resulting mismatch, including the geographic and demographic dimensions of the mismatch.
  • The occupations and industries with the largest projected growth rates, and the occupations expected to generate the largest number of jobs for the labor force as a whole and for the low-skill population.

This report takes a first step in developing basic information and analysis necessary for the creation of a comprehensive workforce development strategy, and making this information available in a form accessible to policy makers and concerned citizens. Our primary focus is the low-skill jobless and underemployed population and the jobs that they might obtain in the Baltimore metropolitan region.