Community Foundation Explores Answers To Broward’s Jobs Crisis

July 29, 2020

Where are Broward’s jobs going during this economic tailspin? And how do we get people back to work?

The Community Foundation of Broward explored the troubling state of local employment during our first-ever virtual Food for Thought gathering.

A Food for Thought is an exclusive opportunity for our Fundholders and Legacy Society members to learn about Broward’s big issues and see the bold impact of local philanthropy. To stay safe during the pandemic, our latest Food for Thought took place through an online video conference.

This interactive online experience featured expert panelists who shared insights about the ongoing jobs crisis and discussed startling local challenges such as:

  • More than 70 percent of South Florida residents report that they are struggling economically due to the pandemic, the Sun Sentinel reported on July 27.
  • Broward unemployment has skyrocketed from about 4 percent to 16 percent during the crisis.
  • And an estimated 25 percent of Broward’s small businesses may close for good.
“We may be in the worst job market since the Great Depression,” said Mason C. Jackson, President Emeritus of CareerSource Broward who has been involved in workforce development programs for over 40 years.  “The worst is not over because the pandemic is not over.”

The crippling effects of steep unemployment are expected to get worse when Florida’s eviction moratorium exemption expires. That could trigger a spike in our homeless population, leaving struggling families nowhere to go.

The Community Foundation of Broward’s first-ever Food for Thought virtual experience is an example of how, even during times of crisis, the Community Foundation remains committed to keeping our Fundholders and Legacy Society members informed and connected.

Making matters worse, because most people get their health insurance through their employers, not having a job puts more Broward families at risk of not getting the health care they need in the midst of a pandemic.

Among the hardest hit are Broward’s low-income workers who already struggled to get by before the pandemic. Now the service industry and tourism-related jobs they rely so heavily on are disappearing.

And at time when our country is crying out for social justice, minority communities in Broward are disproportionately affected by the economic crisis.

“We are going to see higher levels of poverty,” said Germaine Smith-Baugh, President and CEO of the Urban League of Broward County, which promotes economic and social equality. “We have families with these multiple issues, (who) were at one point stable, that are teetering on being unstable.”

With so many businesses closing for good, many types of jobs Broward residents have relied on won’t be coming back. The panel discussed how that requires innovative approaches to help workers adapt to the new jobs market.

Potential strategies include:

  • Training the unemployed to move into higher skill, higher wage jobs in technology, construction and other fields outside of tourism and the service industry.
  • Encouraging local businesses to provide paid apprenticeships and internships to create a talent pipeline, which helps workers and employers alike.
  • Helping local workers adapt to home-based jobs, which have become the new norm during the pandemic. For some, that means help getting a computer, a better internet connection and other equipment needed for working online.

Support from the Community Foundation is already helping get Broward residents back to work.  For example, HOPE South Florida CEO Ted Greer explained how a Community Foundation grant has increased his organization’s job placement efforts for homeless residents.

“They do want to work. They don’t want a handout, they want a hand up,” said Greer, whose organization provides emergency shelter, housing assistance, and support services to help the homeless. “The Community Foundation was a blessing to HOPE South Florida, providing the resources that we needed.”

Broward requires more resources to help the unemployed overcome this crisis and get back to work. As government relief fades, more local philanthropy can provide emergency aid, affordable housing, career training and other critical help for residents to achieve Economic Independence – which we have identified as one of the Issues That Matter most to Broward’s future.

Broward’s Issues That Matter grow more daunting due to the far-reaching effects of this crisis. Support from endowed charitable Funds at the Community Foundation can fuel the long-term solutions our community needs – during this crisis and beyond.

“Philanthropy’s role is more critical now than ever,” said Sheri Brown, Community Foundation Vice President of Community Impact. “The Community Foundation is here to stay, to keep working on these challenges that can’t be fixed overnight. … There is a bright future ahead.”

Click here to watch the first-ever Food for Thought Virtual Experience.

Learn More

To help shape a brighter future for Broward with an endowed charitable Fund, contact Vice President of Philanthropic Services Nancy Thies at nthies@cfbroward.org or 954-761-9503.

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