Intersections: Impact on EmployIndy

 

As CEO and President of EmployIndy, Marion County’s regional workforce development board, my staff and I are charged with bridging gaps between employers and workers in Indianapolis. Through our efforts, and through current strategic planning research, we have uncovered roadblocks to employment that extend far beyond skills: childcare, transportation, medical issues, mental health, living conditions, and more. Meaningful employment is the thread that connects families, neighborhoods, and communities, and there is no doubt that when employment is up, crime rates are down.

Domestic violence is an ill in our society that affects every resident, especially individuals living in our most disadvantaged communities. Unemployment, financial stress, and economic uncertainty have all been reported by women’s shelters as contributing factors to abuse, and the same study found that 93% of victims surveyed sought help for financial needs while in shelter care. Other studies have found unemployment links to alcoholism and domestic violence and a national trend of increased domestic violence following the 2008 recession. These findings all point to a disturbing realization of how intertwined these causes and effects all are to one another.

Addressing unemployment – and the financial hurdles it bears – is key to a healthy community.

Within our own city, there are numerous initiatives underway to help address local unemployment issues, which we hope will in turn impact other social issues. A top priority for EmployIndy is to work with Mayor Hogsett’s office to prioritize parts of the city that suffer the most from poverty, low educational attainment, and un-and under-employment. It is no coincidence that the five neighborhood clusters we are targeting for services are all considered “hot spots” for crime by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. 25-39% of families in these areas are living in poverty, including 42-60% of people under age 18. These communities are particularly in need of education, training, employability skills, and on-the-job training opportunities.

Statistics from The Julian Center show that there are higher rates of domestic violence within our target unemployment zip codes compared to the rest of the city, and we hope and expect our efforts to help impact the community well beyond the unemployment rate. However, addressing these difficult issues requires a great deal of support, which is why we leverage relationships with employers, community-based organizations, local government, and philanthropic organizations to collaborate and find ways to create positive change. When societal problems are intertwined, so too must be the efforts of those aiming to solve those problems.

Angela Carr Klitzsch
President and CEO, EmployIndy