A Workforce Untapped
1 out of 4 amarillo residents lives below the poverty line ($24K for a family of 4)
Two out of three Amarillo citizens are working 1.7 jobs and are still struggling to make ends meet. Almost 70% of our community’s students qualify for free and reduced lunch and approximately 2,000 of them are homeless. The best and most affordable solution to this crisis is the hope of education. Yet, 70% of our citizens do not have a post-secondary education, resulting in narrowed economy focused on low-skill labor. With a higher education certificate or degree, a citizen has the ability to change their economic future and win the war on poverty.
amarillo's labor force is trailing the nation in post-secondary degrees and certificate attainment
The modern economy is increasingly knowledge intensive, requiring employees with skills and education beyond a high school diploma– from a trade certificate to a master's degree. Individuals with only a high school degree face significant challenges finding rewarding careers. Similarly, businesses across the country struggle to hire employees with the required skills and training. Due to this growing reliance on skills and training, connecting a community's residents with educational opportunities is more and more critical to ensuring existing and new businesses have the workforce they need.
A smaller share of workers in Amarillo have advanced degrees (bachelor's or higher) than the national average--27% in Amarillo compared to 36% nationally. From 2010 to 2015, the number of workers with a high school degree or less actually declined-- with 4,200 exiting the labor force.
Amarilloans with no higher education
avalanche consulting| june 2017
A Driver of the Local Economy
workforce availability will shape the future of our community
The size and characteristics of a community's labor force provides a direct measure of the available workforce for employers. In contrast to total population, the labor force measures the number of residents actively participating in the economy -- either currently working or looking for work.
Over the past decade, the share of working age adults participating in the labor force has fallen across the nation. Amarillo's labor force had steadily held above the national average of 65% by 2-3 percentage points for many years. Recently, however, the local rate of labor force participation has dropped to 65%l. More troubling is the fact that Amarillo's labor force only grew 0.8% from 2010-2015--well below the national average of 2.9% and the Texas average of 8.5%.
In Area Development Magazine's 2015 Corporate Executive Survey, respondents’ number one concern when considering relocating or expanding their business was the availability of skilled labor. Considered “very important” or “important” by 92.9 of the respondents, workforce availability was up 10.8 percentage points (the greatest increase overall) from the prior year’s survey. The availability of skilled labor outranked other factors such as labor costs and low union profile.
The Hechinger Report: Debt Without Degree
Vice Impact: College is for the rich, now more than ever
The Atlantic: Better Schools, Better Economies
Yes!Magazine: In a Rust Belt Town Where Tuition Is Covered, Economy Begins to Revive
Brookings Institute: What Colleges Do for Local Economies