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?
Labor force participation in Springfield is trending downward. The city's labor force participation rate is significantly lower than Massachusetts and the Springfield Metropolitan Area (MSA). The figure to the left is for the population aged 16+, see US Census Table DP03.
Wages, however, tell a different story:
The difference between the minimum wage, the mean (average) hourly wage, and a living wage in Hampden County is significant. Someone working two full-time minimum wage jobs would not earn enough to make ends meet.
And consider this: The average hourly wage in 1998 was $17/hour. Given inflation, that would equal about $30/hour today, using the BLS Inflation Calculator. That means wages have declined in the past 20 years, while the cost of goods and services have increased, making it harder for working families to make ends meet.
Minimum wage as of January 1st, 2023. Mean hourly wage from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages for only the 1st Quarter (Source Link). Living wage from the MIT Living Wage Calculator (Source Link).
And the median income of Hispanic Households in our city is roughly half that of White households, which is also true of the metropolitan region and for Massachusetts as a whole (See US Census Table S1903).
A further challenge is the relatively low educational attainment of Springfield's population, particularly for communities of color (See US Census Table S1501).
The City of Springfield is also experiencing demographic changes, with an aging white population. 50% of the white population in Springfield is over the age of 45.
Our region will be in a better position for long-term economic resilience if we address some of the challenges that accompany such changes today.
Fortunately, we have a growing Hispanic population! 61% of the Hispanic or Latino population in Springfield is 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.