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Creating an Economic Database for Use by Local Workforce Investment Boards in the South: Good Information to Facilitate Sound Workforce Development Strategies

 

     
 

Creating an Economic Database for Use by Local Workforce Investment Boards in the South: Good Information to Facilitate Sound Workforce Development Strategies

The southern United States has experienced a significant amount of change over the course of the past decade. Like many parts of the country, the explosive expansion of its economy resulted in the creation of more than 9 million new jobs.

According to many reports (i.e., State of the South), the South surpassed the rest of the nation in terms of job growth. Perhaps most important, the South took some important steps forward in transforming its economy from a low-skilled blue-collar workforce to one increasingly dependent on higher-skilled, better educated workers.

Unfortunately, the economic transformation outlined in the State of the South report is largely a picture of the gains realized in the metro South. While nonmetro areas of the region have experienced an economic restructuring over the course of the past decade, the expansion of good jobs paying decent wages remains more a dream than a reality in the rural South. This is best exemplified in average earnings. For every dollar that metro Southerners earned in 1990, nonmetro workers earned 78 cents. Today, nonmetro workers are receiving only 75 cents for every dollar earned by metro workers. Thus, the nonmetro/metro earnings gap has actually intensified over the past decade.

As a result of federal legislation enacted in 1998, Workforce Investment Boards have been established in every U.S. State. Local workforce investment boards have been created to facilitate workforce preparation and development in specific geographic areas of a given state. An important requirement of these local boards is that they must understand local labor market features and have a grasp on what jobs are likely to grow and decline. Furthermore, the skill levels associated with these jobs must be determined in order to ensure that the local workforce is positioned to fill these employment needs.

The Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC) is working in partnership with the Farm Foundation, the U.S. Department of Labor, and representatives of our region's land-grant university system in creating a comprehensive database that will have high utility to the large number of workforce investment boards that have been created in the South. This database will be available to cooperative extension service faculty and Workforce Investment Board representatives in the South at no cost via the SRDC website.

 
 
       

 

 

 
   
 
 

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