According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, the unemployment rate for African Americans recently reaced a 25-year high during the recession. These statistics are consistent in Fort Wayne, with black unemployment averages 19.1 percent while white unemployment averages 6.8 percent, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The unemployment rate in the Hispanic community is more than twice that in the majority community. The data does not include those who have exhausted unemployment or given up trying to find work.
The primary zip codes we serve have the highest unemployment rates in our community, compared with much lower rates in higher income zip codes (e.g. the unemployment rate in 46814 is 0.46%). The black unemployment rate in Allen County in 2010 was as high as 28.2%.
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In addition, many African Americans, Hispanics and others who are working are not receiving a living wage or benefits, and so are still unable to function self-sufficiently. While there are a wide variety of employment services available, most are not designed to meet the special needs of African-Americans, Hispanics and the hard core unemployed. As welfare reform continues and benefits are cut, there are even greater demands for assistance in becoming job ready, conducting a job search, securing and then retaining employment at a living wage with benefits.
Local employers are increasingly discouraged by the lack of preparation they see in the persons seeking employment. They have a need for workers who will be dependable and practice good work habits. In some instances, they are even willing to forego technical skills and will train their new workers in these, if they can hire persons with these other positive attributes or “soft skills”. Many employers are also seeking assistance in recruiting a more ethnically inclusive workforce.
Having a well-paid, steady job with benefits is an essential piece of achieving self-sufficiency for most adults. The skills assessment, pre-job skills training, placement assistance and follow-up provided by Urban League staff helps program participants develop the skills they will need to successfully seek, secure and retain employment at a living wage with benefits. This enhances the participant’s and their family’s standard of living and long-term potential for achieving self-sufficiency and participating productively in the community.
Those clients who are judged job ready are encouraged to enter into a self-directed placement initiative utilizing Employment Service Department facilities and equipment. The League provides these persons with an “applicant packet” which contains the best information available on how to do a self-directed job search. Additionally, referrals are made for clients who are not job-ready to other agencies that can help them eliminate their barriers to employment. League Employment Services staff aggressively works to help those clients correct deficiencies and obtain job interviews with prospective employers. They also spend time with employers in a variety of job-development activities and program-related consultation.
We enhance these basic services for special target populations when funding permits.
The typical client will receive a 15-30 minute enrollment interview, attend a 3-4 hour orientation workshop, and if appropriate, attend one or more 2 hour Life Skills workshops. These will be followed by a 30-60 minute assessment interview, which will include appropriate referrals to other needed services and appropriate job openings. Additional referrals are made as needed. After placement, an average of three hours will be spent in following up on the client's employment success.
The length of time it takes for a client to complete this entire process depends on their education, skills, work history, type of work sought, and timely follow-through on referrals and services. Local economic conditions and the unemployment rate at the time they are seeking employment are also factors.
To be updated.....