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New Research Reveals Persistent Racial Inequities and Accelerating Automation Threaten Economic Growth in South Florida

New Research Reveals Persistent Racial Inequities and Accelerating Automation Threaten Economic Growth in South Florida

The report highlights actionable strategies to eliminate racial income gaps and improve job quality in the Miami metropolitan region.

January 23, 2023 at 12:15pm

As one of the country’s largest trade hubs, South Florida boasts a diverse economy that creates a wide array of jobs. But a new report indicates that the region’s workers of color still face barriers to high-quality employment and an elevated risk of automation-driven job displacement.

Advancing Workforce Equity in Miami: A Blueprint for Action — recently released by Florida International University in partnership with the National Equity Atlas and Lightcast — provides deeply disaggregated data on workers, workforce outcomes, and labor-market dynamics in the region.

“This report is an important tool for economic recovery,” said Bridgette Cram, interim vice president for Innovative Education and Student Success at Florida International University. “The report’s findings underscore that providing opportunities to obtain high quality jobs in our community can result in economic gains for our region.”

The report’s findings underscore how the combination of long-standing racial economic exclusion and accelerating automation have carried mounting costs: an estimated loss of $28 billion in economic activity per year.

Other key findings include the following:
  • People of color are a large and growing majority of the region’s workforce. Workers of color account for more than 70 percent of the workforce between the ages of 25 and 64 years in South Florida, and an even larger share — nearly 77 percent — of the “emerging workforce” (the population younger than 25 years).
  • Only 36 percent of the region’s 2.9 million workers have stable, automation-resilient jobs with family-sustaining wages. The share drops to 12 percent among workers whose jobs do not require any college education, compared to more than 75 percent of those in jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Black and Hispanic workers, particularly those who are immigrants, are overrepresented in occupations that tend to pay lower wages and provide fewer benefits. Black workers and Hispanic women also have the lowest median wages at $16 per hour, while white men earn the highest median wages at $27 per hour — a 69 percent pay gap.
  • Workers of color, those with less than a high school diploma, and non-English speakers are most vulnerable to automation-driven job disruption. Black workers in the Miami metro are 12 percent more likely than white workers to be affected by automation, and Hispanic workers are 11 percent more likely.
“Workforce equity is the bedrock of shared prosperity and the key to a sustainable and thriving regional economy,” said Abbie Langston, the Director of Equitable Economy at PolicyLink. “This report highlights the challenges but also the opportunities for Miami to build an equitable workforce ecosystem that works for everyone.”

Funded by JPMorgan Chase, this analysis will help further inform the firm’s philanthropic decisions as part of the New Skills at Work initiative to prepare people for the future of work as well as its new $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity and drive an inclusive economic recovery. In addition, locally, in 2022, JPMorgan Chase announced a five-year, $10 million commitment toward the $100 million Tech Equity Miami initiative aimed at increasing greater inclusivity in Miami’s growing tech industry.

“JPMorgan Chase is committed to building an inclusive economy and future that benefits communities and the people in them,” said Maria Escorcia, Corporate Responsibility Program Officer for Florida at JPMorgan Chase. “Data-driven insights, like the one presented in this report, will help regional business, government, and nonprofit leaders make better-informed decisions that will benefit the Miami metropolitan region going forward.”

Explore the full report, including the data and tailored strategies to ensure an equitable future of work and economic prosperity in the Miami metropolitan region, at