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  • Writer's pictureProject on Workforce Team

The Future of Boston’s Workforce: The path forward from COVID-19

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Equipped with a set of world-class public, private, and not-for-profit institutions that call this city home, the Boston region is better placed than many to emerge from this crisis stronger than it started it. Our current moment provides a unique impetus and opportunity for the public, private, and non-profit ecosystem in the region to tackle big problems together and build partnerships that would not have been possible during normal times.

Through interviews, surveys, and conversations over the past year, The Project on Workforce in partnership with The Boston Foundation has collected a rich data source of insights and perspectives from a diverse range of stakeholders on Greater Boston’s opportunities and challenges. Together we've launched our report The Future of Boston’s Workforce: The path forward from COVID-19, which can be read, here:

Download PDF • 2.14MB

Executive Summary

Prior to the arrival of the novel coronavirus, an economic boom had propelled unemployment rates nationally to a 50-year low. However, in Greater Boston, like much of the country, prosperity was not broadly shared: Wages remained stagnant for workers without four-year degrees and racial gaps persisted across education levels. The arrival of COVID-19 in March 2020 abruptly ended this boom, and exacerbated Greater Boston’s growing economic divide. As the region recovers, inequities persist, with disproportionate economic effects on Greater Boston’s low-wage earners, Black and Latinx workers, workers without college degrees, women, and immigrants.

In response to the unprecedented disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic on Greater Boston’s economy and workforce, the Boston Foundation, Skillworks, and the Project on

Workforce at Harvard partnered to convene workforce leaders from across the region to address how might Greater Boston’s organizations work across institutional lines to address the labor market challenges that the pandemic had laid bare. In an effort to answer the medium- and long-run implications for the workforce, leaders sought to understand the region’s response to the crisis, as well as remaining needs, challenges, and opportunities. Through interviews and surveys with these leaders during the summer and fall of 2020, the Project on Workforce at Harvard collated and analyzed responses from a diverse group of stakeholders. Our intention in this work is to identify and frame areas of consensus for a cross-sector agenda for collective action.

This report serves to summarize the findings from that effort. It proceeds in four sections. In Section 1, we provide context on Greater Boston’s labor market and economy before and during the current crisis. In Section 2, we discuss how organizations have responded to the COVID-19 crisis, including changes to their operations, priorities, and strategies. In Section 3, we share key findings on how Greater Boston’s institutions are planning for the future, including both their hopes and their worries for the long-term implications on the workforce. Finally, in Section 4, we share reflections from the stakeholders engaged in this process about opportunities for a shared strategy and collective response to the crisis in Greater Boston.

Download the full report:

Download PDF • 2.14MB


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