United Way SELA - ALICE in the Workforce

Kirby Nagle and her guests discuss the ALICE report (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), which assists individuals and families who are working but unable the basic necessities of housing, food, childcare, healthcare, and transportation.

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Welcome Malta this edition of the united way of southeast Louisiana's live the united gradient and Kirby Nagle. United way fights for the health education and financial stability of every person in every community we serve has got a plan to get that. Our blueprint for prosperity is laser focused on eradicating poverty with a bold vision of equitable communities were all individuals are healthy. Educated and economically stable. And on the show or covering programs collaborations initiatives volunteer isn't an advocacy efforts all aimed at eradicating poverty in southeast Louisiana. Now on today's show we've got united way in the house Michael Williamson president and CEO of the united way of southeast Louisiana. Along with Brit costs board of trustees chair for united way of southeast Louisiana. Now united way was fortunate to come most important event but the federal reserve bank of New Orleans focusing on. Alice and a workplace now we'll go back and talk about Alice in just a few moments. And this event titled the economics of investing in America's workforce in Alice population. Featured an expert panel discussion. Including Michael Williamson examining party's role as one of the key economic influencers of the region and its impact our workforce. As a sudden likely settle on the panel was moderated by the one and only Rafael Bostick the president and CEO of the federal reserve bank of Atlanta and and you eSATA along exciting group of our region. And part frankly the south's economic thought leaders including David outs and executive vice president and director of research for the federal reserve bank of Atlanta. Actually guard air from right here at home executive vice president and CEO of the Norah Jones business alliance. Along with stevens' tubes is executive vice president of turner industries group. Now I wanna discuss some of the takeaways. From that panel discussion observed by the few and Rick and talk about the work united way is doing to improve the workforce and economy of southeast Louisiana. But Michael before we dive deep into Dallas and it's connection to the workforce let's take a step back and explain for folks. What palaces. And the breakdown of sales numbers in our region. No thanks scurrying and thanks Rick for joining us via there first and you know for us that the panel discussion nothing was buried both informative and thought provoking. Provoking we learned a great deal. Arm and really focused on him I'm Alice. From which for those of you have not heard a balanced before. Imus an acronym that stands for asset limited income constrained yet implored. In so this is essentially a study of financial hardship for the working or in our community and the harsh reality is while 19% curbing. Of our citizens live in poverty and based on what the federal government has determined to be a poverty level. There's about another 23%. Of our families. That actually live above the poverty level but don't make enough to meet their basic serve our armies of what we were caught Alice survival budget. So all in about forty to 43%. Of our citizens. Are actually struggling everyday and not able to make ends meet most days. And we're just one paycheck away from. You know disaster in poverty themselves whether it's. Harsh storm you know our car repair or health emergency. So we're talking about almost half the population in southeast Louisiana that that we serve here. What is the connection and more some of the conversation that you had at the Spain how does Alice. And those living in or near par pretty connect to the workforce in the well being of our economy in this region. Forming a think that the reality is that an order for us to. Reduce the number of fame is a live from poverty in the air brought Alice population and Tom access to economic opportunity is critical so good jobs that they. A living wage or better are essential so I'm but they're also the workforce. There in the workforce actively employed many of them now. But I would put them on path way to prosperity which means. Increase places and so. A lot of our work is set an on board the support that we can put in place now those those families but. There are some may see it as kind of a deficit you know discussion. Israeli we're talking Matt assets people that are very capable that want to work they just need a little bit of help and assistance getting access to good jobs. While I wanna talk about in a little bit some of the consequences that folks face when their living in junior probably was struggling to get those those those. Not only Marisa high paying the sustaining jobs. In our region that Rick I'd like to bring you in at this point you share content with me after the event. That was striking. Of course in other consequences that the families face when they're struggling but what about those. That are working hard to make a living that they realized. I'm gonna fall off of some of these subsidies that are there to help me help my family get die if I move for percent next level job. Now I can't have help paying for child care which means act not put this extra charge to change. That really leaves a trickle down effect as we go from. None of those famous but to the people at large. Then why they're not struggling to get by but there's still footing some of those those subsidies. I'm you know Kirby David alternate vice president or her executive vice president director of research for the Atlanta aggressive Federal Reserve. Really illustrated that point when he when he talked about. That when he referred Torres and showed. Statistically. What the fiscal cliff really look like and what that means is that people are living. Between zero income and about 22000. Dollars a year. Yeah are her care for through public assistance and while that's expensive. When they hit that wall that magic number somewhere around 22000 dollars. Whitney when they hit that so they're starting to grow Michael I'm starting to get to that level it can take care of their own needs all of a sudden. Their public assistance goes away and goes away so dramatically. That they end up farther behind and until they get to 51000. Dollars a year in income. They're really they they have a built in financial disincentive to get off public assistance. That fiscal cliff I'm doing well and I'm starting to take out I've gotten. Job. Here comes here comes a cliff there goes my public assistance. And unless I can make the leap from 22000 dollars here 51000 dollars a year I'm actually financially better off to stand public assistance. And that is what's wrong and I think that's what's broken with the system that both. David and Raphael pointed out in in their report status or report that this report but I would say it was also alarming. And it was. And Ellis also. I guess alarms or brewers startling as alarming. And it was very graphic representation of why people need to stay on public assistance until I can make that that lead. One other thing you know we talked about the blueprint for prosperity and we talked about. Keeping getting people to have a more prosperous life. That funnel that is filled with need those people that are the folks that are on public assistance before the twentieth 2000. Or those who were actually working and Michael used the term working pour. There one hiccup one missed paycheck away from needing public assistance not you know pay their rent. Not being able pay their bills or not can't take your kids. That Alice reporters so is so revealing because. If we don't take care of things that are putting people into the final of need. Then and that includes people who who aren't working. But Ellis points out so dramatically that it includes people who are working even if we don't cut that. That flow off of new entrants into the funnel. Then now we're really not gonna get the goals are reached which is eradication of poverty united way southeast Louisiana has made part of its blueprint. So we now have to take care of those people were harmed them and we have to help those who are employed but marginally employed to be able to really set themselves up prosperity. Thought I think something that you tie Sean is interesting because so often there's this misconception that. People who are living on public assistance are doing so because it's easy thing to do it or not. I do I have to work if there's a sincere but the reality is. When you're working in an interest in industries in southeast Louisiana that aren't paying these higher wage jobs. This is this is what you face that the challenge too to make those few action dollar should be able to pay for high quality affordable John Turner owner pay for. Safe affordable housing unit in an area that's not affected by crime. So Michael that leads me to my next question we talk about some of the consequences there those families are facing when they look at. The realities of of life living paycheck to paycheck. How did they make the decisions. On what. To pay for what they can't pay for where government can come in and provide some assistance where public agencies can come in and provide some assistance. So yes so it's. I think it's it's agree. The great discussion point that that you know. Consequences of being Al sore. You know we can also say the cost of being pour. As a reality is if you if you're low to moderate income armor if you consider yourself to be. Poor by our standards in this country. That means you have to work a lot harder. To me and I mean that's outside out of your day to day job. Mean you also have to make really really tough choices. And so. If you have a good paying jobs you can afford in the best possible now a child care for your for your young children. But if you're pour. The yet make choices. In an email at the Pritchard children and Tucker you can forward. But it may not be the best quality. So that means that your children. Have been exposed to a lesser quality of care which one actually affect their development and acts is a part of this cycle of poverty and so. I think that's one example also you looked at folks haven't modify their work schedules because they have family obligations so. They can't work you know. A lot of hours because there're there are they have to spread those hours ago ticker their children of their family. Is it odd choices. Alice it has to make every day that. I think they consumers more difficult than people think. And let's let's face it. By and large folks don't wanna be in that position. I think the real opportunity we have as a community when two point 83%. Of our families our citizens. Are working. They're showing up every day sometimes working two jobs. Maybe even three they wanna work the question is can we get them on a path to better paying jobs. Which is good for them. Dispute park community and it's also good for the economy. Well you asked that question came to get them on the path so how do we get them on the path what some of the working out at ways during an investing and two to start that take the first step. Toward actress. That we know these folks living in house have the job so it's not entering the workforce but it's finding that career pathway to higher paying self sustaining jobs. So I don't three things real quick one has access to high quality early care and education. Shout out to the city and New Orleans. The council and our mayor. In a special shout out to folks like Jason Williams president council who. Com got the city commit three quarters of million dollars to increase access to high quality early care and education for Orleans parish children. So access to high quality early care and education. Ensuring that our children are reading on grade level by the time they reached the fourth straight with us an indicator of you know our economic success. There has again in the column it and the Haskell. Preparing them for my college work and life and so the reality is. Some kids may go to a four institution and get the skills they need to get a good job. I was make so you know a traitor certification route which allowed them earn a good living. And we're investing in areas in those areas right now hello contains education help or children. Get out of house call further education. Or get a good job. Well before we detection the specifics of the investments such are making Merck a wanna get your impression is this is this is a theme I heard. Many times over a few nights ago at the cement and that was. We've spent so much time and money investing in. Explain to children the four year college degree is the pack that you have to take and I know in Louisiana we're seeing a shift into you. Career technical education and getting students invested in the fact that. A two year welding degree or two year instrumentation agree. Mike's a chill out. On a much more prosperous future what your thoughts there on on how do we make that shift between the four year degree or in the two year degree in our region. Like I think that topic is trades how do we get more students interest in moving it trades and specialized skills that'll help them start earning a relatively high. Rate of pay to begin with you know if you don't have if you if you don't have the need him early good start. You don't have any chance. First laws more economical it's less expensive to get trained in the skills secondly that skill is more directly applicable. In the job market today especially in southeast Louisiana. And and that I would say the third thing is. It opens up pay it once you're on solid footing financially give you the opportunity to reinvest in your own education if you want to take a different Patton her reinvest at that time. Re entered college track and do that and and and really get there that way. There's a lot of ways to get to a higher education today. But for a long time I think we are overly focused on there's only one way and that's to leave high school and get into before your track and Michael you brought up. They're great level reading you know. One of the things that struck me from the very beginning my work with you and united way is that. There are things that need to happen at their earliest possible point in it in a child's life to get them on track and if they missed those things that there's missing components. Then they're really their path is set terribly low trajectory and getting back to its trajectory that's a prosperous. Financially successful life. It's almost impossible and one of those things of course is great level reading and I'll never forget the moment that I heard. Would you be you first learned to read and then all other learning comes. Because you can read you you've been read to learn and if you don't get that on track. And Unita were doing a great job working north. Grade level grade level reading. You don't get that on track. For you you're just going to be really look trajectory I wanna come back to something very quickly though. Courier or something you said. You see either so much conversation in the in in the in the community today about people who live on public assistance not wanting to get off. And move my experiences. That's in its. It's very it's a huge misnomer. Now and do people wanna get off. They're incredibly frustrated when he hit that fiscal that wall that says no you can't you can't go to work today. If you go to work today. You're always republic. Your public assistance programs and in doing so you're not going to be able to go to work if you can for the child care that's that gap that we need to fix me news smooth out that cliff. And have it be more gradual and I know it's going to be an expense but and until we fix that we're gonna have people get on public assistance. And then perpetuate. You know in science and technology. That thing that is at least. Is so it was for so many years people were ever worked on solving the perpetual motion machine. And I always say that thing that I see is closest. The perpetual motion machine. For the social programs that we put in place to help people get again to get two more prosperous prosperous life. Because what we do and trying to help them oftentimes just keeps him entrenched in those systems and and I think that we can correct that. I think we're going to be well on her way to helping achieve the goal. Eradication of poverty in Louisiana. So let's talk about united way has invested for the first time ever in this is a relatively new in a collaborative grant process and I think it's. And it's certainly unique for united way is it's unique for our region. I'm in and I know of the seven grants that were funding. Four of which are directly focused on on the workforce at his first one we'll talk about it briefly because both of you hit on it. But our our. Campaign that's working on the earliest learners and really they're at least part of the workforce and that's not necessarily most popular way to look at it from across our boards but. Or funding in New Orleans campaign for grade level we're reading which is really the earliest intervention into improving the workforce as you both mentioned so eloquently. The ability to read on grade level by third grade is an indicator of future success. On so we know that so so that's that piece they are you talked about it but. Kind of a second step and Michael is used for arsenal which is focused on preparing students for career pathways. Aligned to these three heart to excuse me high wage high demand regional industry clusters which are specifically skilled labor. How science tech and I T and that's a little bit of what we are just touching on. On making sure that folks are. Picking career pathways that you from a very young age are going to ensure future success. You know we've been so so blessed to have the opportunity to invest and you forced Nolan now thanks to Leslie Jacobs and both her. Her personal commitment. To you for forced development. But also her yet Philanthropic investment. Actually helped develop. It did the initiative and I use force is you know a true public private partnership. Both with investors like ourselves at the table thought partners around how do you deliver the best possible. You workforce development training. In employers and step at a table and said. What are for these on these young people intern ships to give them on the job experience. And probably in many cases are those same individuals when they graduate. From household. It's been amazingly successful. I'm invested in by you know in a way JPMorgan Chase Bloomberg philanthropy is in many others a city of New Orleans and so it's been it's. And it's a great pilot in New Orleans and we think it's something that can be scaled in. Something to go back to something rickets said. In developing this we get a trip to Washington DC to see it in action news. And we went and visited a group of young people that we're going through a welding course at their house school. And when talking to the young individuals and these were several young African American males or were in the program. Asked about their future plans were in their answer was. Consistently. Mama get a job as a welder. But once I do come and go back to cause later and finish my four year degree gluten and say solid job. In earning that weighs a passport pathway to increase their education which I thought was. Amazing here group a seventeen year olds don't talk about that so the Roma right path and I think it's an important part of the continuing. So firm very are also investing in the New Orleans works collaborative. Which is a little bit later down the road folks that have already gotten our injured in the workforce maybe either underemployed or under and unemployed. Are looking for help he tells a bit more about that partnership and that collaborative work as well. I think the greatest example as a part you know on the work that we've done through normal course collaborative with the greater norms foundation. Foxman aren't dog Otto. To develop specialized training for medical assistance who. Sox are hired and and he shot to Oxnard because well and they've. Have they hired these individuals. But they've also increased their wage is to be on par with weapons wage should be we're tourism amazing commitment because about a million dollars annually. That they invested in these individuals insure their wages were where where they're supposed to be. But it shared that we can adapt very specific training and partnerships that deliver better more capable workforce for an employer. And as one example that we could repeat across clusters. In all it takes as a Philanthropic investment and thought partners at the table. So from there we talked about that campaign for guerrilla overeating you personal and an oral and works collaborative the fourth piece to this Rick is the Louisiana prisoner reentry initiative. I know this is a very large topic it's a show in and of itself rather multiple shows. In of itself but. The workforce. Investment piece here making sure that that folks are re entering the QB Andy after incarceration. Are properly prepared. To be successful here in the workforce and I know this is one of our clapper as its near and dear to your heart. Louisiana prisoner reentry initiative says says that that they'll be some money. Through lower portion of incarceration rates of these some money you invest in programming. I think what we're focused on is making sure that in a pre release. So while while. While prisoners are still in imprisoned we will work on getting them ready for reentering. Life when I'm so much from what we've experienced over the last. Last. You're two or is this recidivism rate is you know just out of out of control. Let the beginning example. If 50%. Of the people who are released from prison. Are back behind bars. Within 36 months of release that all we're doing is back to that perpetual motion machine right as we just refueling. That's systems so. Though officers that are out there arresting people have the rearrest them. The there's a sense of desperation and there's no better place to know if somebody wants meals and a place to live. And they get out of they get out of prison without proper training they don't have on the live and they don't have any job or go to what their options and their options are really. I mean startlingly. Startling that so. What we've been focused on is getting on the right programming. Trying to bring the necessary funds to the table so that. We can do pre release investing in their and there are. Issues whatever they are whether workforce housing getting improperly trained to be. And good employees some of those are technical skills some of those soft skills right have a vote. To get along with with people and then the last point is once they're out to continue to give them the proper. Run way to get the support they need. We see in a prisoner reentry is huge issue if we intend to reduce the incarceration rates in our state. And we need to stop people from cycling back into the system once they've served their time and paid their debt. I'm Kirby one more thing and Michael I before we get too far off that Michael you mentioned a young black networking working eight black males unemployment rate. Has been alarming when we hear the national news that says they are unemployment rate this in the country is four and 5%. That we look at the New Orleans. Rate of increase. Unemployment for black working age men. We hit. We hit what is it about a twelve year low last year when we dropped to 43 point 9%. When we dropped to 43 point 9% from ten that the rest of the country if you just take the country at large Ford 5% unemployment rate. Black males in New Orleans. 44%. That was a new low when you're that had been as high as 52%. In 2011. Can you imagine that half of all. Working age of black males in our city are unemployed. And by the way read the newspaper a couple of days ago in the sewers and water board has 400 openings. You know. Oh my goodness we have employment need. But we have a population of people we have a population that can't find their way to those jobs and that's. And in many ways that's sort Louisiana prisoner reentry initiative is all about. Let's get the skill set up let's get to obstacles out of their way like drug of substance abuse housing and proper training let's get him to work or back to work. Michael if you will for me touch on are on the united ways partnership wins. Ashley guard air it in the city the world's is excellent because so much of the work that they are doing is specifically settlement on that group of the population that is. I think in desperate need of a help and assistance and it and a pathway as she said not just a quick work but to me Patrick to prosperity in finding a prosperous future. A higher earning Jaaber self sustaining. Job well our our colleagues Everett nor is business lines Lance written answers are CEO and actually. Gardner as the new chief operating officer who also is has been recognized as a powerful force around workforce development. In our region. You have been doing some great work for us the partnership between. Our new Jane Wayne Leonard prosperity sooner where were offering financial education and coaching services. To the network for economic opportunity and their partners like fervently TC a job warning goodwill. I think is a great example of how public private partners to work together to address the very specific workforce challenge. And in particular were very proud of our relationship with strap which is one strapped New Orleans. Which is one of those network partners that has been dealing Europe over the past several years. This challenged the African American males promptly phase in our community where it says. Pat you know higher incarceration rates and it had interactions with a criminal justice system. But they're also unemployed and those two things actually go hand in hand. But they've proven. Through kind of a four week intense. Soft skill development kind of more behavioral. Change work that they're enduring. That they can actually help individuals. Near turn the corner. And become much more able to ground compete for others are wage higher demand jobs and so. Stroud nor Owens and strap future leaders which is working with younger individuals. About now co located in our facilities where work and him him. But the real question is what this work done while we do more. Well the reality is it takes people and resources but we know it works. So the more financial resources we have to invest improvement strategies like that. The more young people more employable African American males in particular. We can put on the pathway into the good jobs. Well in this last minute and a half then let's make that connection. And we talked about it exit question of obviously resources and findings and I think you've made it a fairly strong case today for understanding why united way in the work that you're investing in is good for business. Can you. Can you give us. What's the pitch what's the tagline for folks are saying look we're working on improving the workforce were working on improving. Now my life for those that are living in a near par Greene Alice but also the other half the population that is getting by. We wanna make sure that we have brighter futures for all what what's the case there. Well I think it's clear first of all doing in anyways not. Does not have a building or place that's that's a concept of how we all work together to address and the biggest issues were faced in our community. Which are us as poverty and I think there while some tennis folks may look at us as a very good irreparable charitable organization. The reality is you know is good for business. When we're doing our jobs really well and we're solving big issues. It makes our communities safer more vibrant. More economically prosperous. And we're a better community and Rick come in this last minute. Your thoughts as well well two things public private partnerships that you mention my caller great thing I think we have to be very careful. Both of legislation and then. And how we how we bring programming. With tax dollars we have to bring those programs. To. To bear. Without over relying on this public private partnership I know it's. It's popular and certainly the business community steps up and huge way but we need to get to that core funding of the programs that are necessary first. And then do extra with that the private funding the second thing I wanna sale on that issue is. That I agree with you Michael you can't in systems thinking you can't have part of a social fabric ripped and torn and and you can't have this system broken. And have a good business climate. When you have people the canard can afford their lives. They're they're not a drain on the system they're not over depleting the system resources. United united way and its programs are 100% good for business. I guess the last thing I wanna I wanna say is. I would encourage all of the business community might be carrying this to really consider stepping up. Becoming part of the you know you united way has southeast Louisiana initiatives through to make this healthier safer place for us to live and work. Brick and Michael Allen a thank you for joining us today. I also wanna thank all those contributed to her 20172018. United way annual workplace campaign we're so grateful for all of you. Has made a contribution to support our efforts to eradicate poverty. Or we're not be possible value so thank you so much. Former information please visit us at united way sealer dot org and follow us on FaceBook Twitter and answer Graham are searching for the handled at united way see La. Which ought to remember we only have one life to live to live better we must live united.