In the Bay Area, COVID-19 has dealt a harsher economic blow to the region than initially estimated. Nearly 5,000 jobs were lost in January 2021 alone. In the City of Oakland, the unemployment rate has spiked to 9.6%, after having been at its lowest rate in decades before the pandemic began. All of this has exacerbated longstanding racial disparities in the region. Before the pandemic began, 7 in 10 Alameda County residents living in poverty were people of color and the Black unemployment rate was over double that of white residents. This vast gulf in the jobless rate and poverty between racial groups is expected to widen further unless immediate action is taken to support equitable workforce development programs and job pipelines.

The City of Oakland administers, funds, and oversees multiple investments into programs and services that directly and indirectly support workforce development. During the pandemic, the city pivoted its workforce development services to focus on helping the unemployed and underemployed obtain the skill sets needed to achieve economic security for today’s jobs as well as those of the future. FUSE will partner with Oakland to create a holistic workforce development system for the city post-pandemic, utilizing data to align investments and expand access to high-quality jobs and careers. A key priority will be ensuring that opportunities are inclusive of all Oaklanders.