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Report: Triangle Has Room For Improvement To Address Racial Disparities

Diverse Workforce

A new report shows the Research Triangle region needs to work harder to ensure a more equitable future for women and people of color.   

The “Equitable Growth Profile” of the Research Triangle Region was presented this week at the Research Triangle Park Headquarters, sponsored by the Triangle J Council of Governments and the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments.

The "Equitable Growth Profile" shows a demographic transformation taking place in the 13-county Research Triangle region which includes a workforce that has often been discriminated against. 

Sarita Turner is a Senior Associate with PolicyLink, author of the report.  She says leaders must address the disparities.

“Job training for good jobs and not seasonal jobs, but good permanent jobs is critical.  You have to address the barriers," said Turner.

Turner says the problem is people of color will soon make up most of the population and numbers show women and people of color continue to come up short in the job market.

“So poverty is increasing throughout your region.  The working poor population is on the rise, so that points back to the low wage jobs that you are creating rather than middle wage jobs," said Turner.

The "Equitable Growth Profile" says the region’s GDP would be more than $20 billion higher if there were no racial disparities in income.

Lee Clark-Sellers is the Innovation Officer for Ply Gem Industries Inc.  She told the audience it has been difficult finding qualified workers for her company's higher paying jobs at their plant in Fair Bluff in Columbus County. 

"As a business, I can't wait a decade for the school systems to catch, for the community colleges to catch up.  I need people now," said Clark-Sellers.

The report says some steps that can help improve racial economic inclusion:

  • Grow Good Jobs and Create Pathways for Workers Facing Barriers to Employment
  • Raise Wages and Increase Financial Security
  • Ensure Education and Career Pathways for all Youth
  • Bridge the Racial Generation Gap
  • Ensure Diverse Civic Participation and Leadership
Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
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