NYC Employment and Training Coalition & the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School Release New Report on Challenges Facing Workforce Development Community For Equitable COVID-19 Recovery

Since the start of the pandemic, New York City’s workforce development organizations are seeing an
increase in demand due to unemployment and job loss despite seeing a decrease in City and State funding

2020 saw the worst single-year NYC job decline since the 1930s; NYC jobs are 14 percent below pre-pandemic levels, more than double the national losses

Read the Full Report:

Workforce Development Organizations: Resilient through COVID-19 and Essential for Economic Recovery

NEW YORK, NY – (March 23, 2021) – The New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCETC), the nation’s largest city-based membership association for the workforce development industry, and the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School today released a new report entitled “Workforce Development Organizations: Resilient through Covid-19 and Essential for Economic Recovery” which surveyed 54 workforce development organizations in New York City at the end of 2020.

The report provides insight into the struggles and accomplishments of the workforce development sector in the economic landscape of the past year’s job losses, dramatic shifts in patterns of work, and the unequal and disproportionate consequences the pandemic had for the most vulnerable New Yorkers, as well as highlights the various ways workforce organizations have pivoted to and developed new digital infrastructures to continue to train and connect people to employment throughout the pandemic.

Workforce development organizations have had to overcome numerous challenges to reopening in-person, hybrid, and virtual services. Some of the report’s key findings include:

  • New York City job loss was five times that of the Great Recession: Nearly one out of every five New York City jobs were lost in the second quarter of 2020, and only 40 percent had been re-gained by the fourth quarter
  • Overall, 2020 saw the worst single-year New York City job decline since the 1930s
  • 96 percent of organizations have seen a decrease in revenue due to reduced City contract funding, State contract funding, private philanthropy or fundraising
  • Workforce development organizations saw an average of 20 to 39 percent of clients continuing to face barriers accessing online programs and services due to lack of necessary technology — however, for those who have access to devices and internet access, it opened up opportunities for remote training and evening work without having to pay for childcare
  • Unemployment rates remained high across the board for men and women (15 and 16 percent, respectively); however, the unemployment rate among men of color was nearly twice that of white men (18 percent versus nine percent unemployment)
  • 63 percent of workforce development organizations expressed concern they would not be able to meet the need for employment placement services in the next six months
  • Nearly half of those surveyed reported increased demand since the beginning of the pandemic for employment placement services (44 percent) and education and training services (47 percent)
  • Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those likely to have lost a job had annual workplace earnings of less than $40,000, while only nine percent had earnings of more than $100,000

On average, across the surveyed organizations, 90 percent of workers who utilize the workforce development services are Black, Latinx, Asian, or other non-white workers, while 10 percent of constituents are white. The unemployment crisis created by Covid-19 follows a similar pattern of disproportionate effects on persons of color. Over two- thirds (68 percent) of job losses are among persons of color, with Latinx workers bearing a particularly high burden, experiencing 31 percent of lost jobs compared to a 27 percent share of all New York City private sector jobs in December 2020.

“Workforce development organizations will play one of the most essential roles in helping NYC achieve an equitable and inclusive recovery. Since the start of the pandemic, these organizations have shown remarkable resiliency, pivoting and responding to the ongoing job market upheaval by helping workers find jobs in new industries, upgrade their skills and also train to work in different fields, almost all from home,” said Jose Ortiz, Jr., CEO of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition. “As New York City begins to recover, thousands of its workers will need help reentering the workforce, finding full-time jobs, and navigating the changes Covid-19 has wrought on the labor market. Our new findings show that to meet increased community and worker needs, workforce development organizations need strong budgetary and legislative support; the future of New York City depends on it.”

“As the economy begins to add jobs and NYC continues to reopen, tens of thousands of workers will need help getting reconnected to employment. Many of these workers will find that the landscape of entry-level jobs has shifted, with some jobs not returning and others changing in response to remote work, the growth of e-commerce, and the increased use of technology. Because many of these workers are also from communities hardest hit by the pandemic, workforce organizations are in a pivotal position to help put New Yorkers back to work with the right skills and thus help communities recover,” said Lina Moe, Assistant Director for Economic Research at the Center for New York City Affairs Covid-19 Economic Recovery Project and co-author of the report.

“Our goal is not to go back to how it was, because how it was led us to how it is now. In pursuit of a full and equitable economic recovery for all New Yorkers, we must work directly with community-based organizations and invest in workforce development,” said NYC Council Member Carlina Rivera. “This increased commitment is key to addressing the economic fallout from Covid-19 and essential for both new entrants to the workforce and for those transitioning between industries. By investing in a variety of training programs, as well as sector-specific hard-skills training, we ensure our workforce is flexible both in meeting the demands of a radically changed marketplace and providing appropriate opportunities for people to join growing industries in an evolving post-pandemic economy.”

“Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color in both infection rate and unemployment rate. We know that historically marginalized communities are hired less and laid off more. We saw it during the Great Recession and we’re seeing it again today. Our recovery effort is an opportunity to correct systemic equity flaws in our workforce,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “New Yorkers need to have access to training and certifications in sustainable sectors like tech, education, and construction. We need to provide the necessary resources for our small businesses to rebound, including bringing their employees with them and hiring new, local residents that will support their post-Covid-19 talent needs.”

“Getting New Yorkers back to work will be a multi-agency effort that must be priority number one as we move into 2021 and a post-COVID world. As we seek to build back our economy better, it is essential that job training programs and services reach the five boroughs equitably and, likewise, that New York City businesses are connected directly with local talent in each and every one of our communities,” said NYC Council Member Paul Vallone.

About the Organizations

Founded in 1997, NYCETC is the voice of New York’s workforce development community. NYCETC works to ensure that every New Yorker — especially those who have been historically marginalized and disenfranchised and cut off from workforce opportunities — has access to the skills, training, and education needed to thrive in the local economy, and that every business is able to maintain a highly skilled workforce. Its 190 members create jobs and connect underserved New Yorkers — primarily New Yorkers of color, New Yorkers with low- or moderate-incomes, New Yorkers with multiple barriers to employment, and New Yorkers who have been left out of the growing economy due to systemic and historic marginalization — to opportunities so they can support their families and give back to their communities.

NYCETC, in coalition with ANHD and RPA, recently announced the selection of a 20-person steering committee to develop an agenda for inclusive economic growth across New York City. More information on NYCIGI can be found here:

The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School is an applied policy research institute that drives innovation in social policy. The Center provides analysis and solutions, focusing on how public policy impacts low-income communities, and striving for a more just and equitable city.