Our Vision is for Springfield to have thriving communities, where economic opportunity, growth, and resilience is possible for all.
The economic landscape has changed a great deal over the last 20 years, and Springfield WORKS is helping employers and residents navigate this new economic landscape.
How has the landscape changed?
Springfield has had relatively consistent rates of labor force participation for many years. While the city labor force participation rate is lower than the Hampshire County and Statewide rates, it has still been generally consistent for years.
Wages, however, tell a different story:
The difference between the minimum wage, the average hourly wage, and a living wage in Hampden County is significant. People couldn't work two full-time minimum wages jobs and have enough to make ends meet.
And consider this: The average hourly wage 20 years ago was $17/hour. Given inflation, that would equal $26/hour today. That means wages have actually declined in the past 20 years, while the cost of goods and services have increased. It's no wonder that a "livable wage" - what people need to pay for basic needs - is even higher than the average wage, and is twice the minimum wage.
And the median Income of Hispanic Households in our region is roughly half the national average; which is not the case for White and Black households
A further challenge is the relatively low educational attainment of Springfield's population, particularly for communities of color.
Springfield has also seen some demographic changes, and might put the region in a better position for long-term economic resilience if we can address some of the challenges that accompany such changes, today.
The white population is older - 65% are over 45.
Fortunately, we have a growing Hispanic population, with nearly 65% BELOW the age of 34.
Springfield can build on its young workforce, and potentially guard against any negative impact of the “silver tsunami," the retiring older white population, to come.
This all means...
We have to remove the obstacles that prevent employers from finding the workers they need, and job seekers from finding their way to secure employment with wages that pay.
Our Strategies: Improving Workforce Systems
Develop New Frameworks to Guide the Workforce System.
Improve the Effectiveness of Service Providers Seeking to Enhance the Skills and Capacities of Low-income Job Seekers.
Influence Employer Hiring and Worker Advancement Practices.
Advocate for Policy Improvements.