Delta Regional Authority Releases Labor Market and Workforce Report

March 07, 2022

New research evaluates the Delta Region's labor market, identifies opportunities and challenges for workforce development.

CLARKSDALE, MS -- Delta Regional Authority (DRA) today released the Labor Market and Workforce Report, a study produced for DRA by the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) in collaboration with EntreWorks Consulting (EntreWorks), with support and guidance from DRA. The report provides an evaluation of the Delta Region’s labor market and identifies best practices for workforce development and education, including recommendations for key stakeholders such as policymakers and economic development practitioners.

"The Labor Market and Workforce Report provides a baseline understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face as a region to ensure our residents have access to high quality training and sustainable career pathways," said DRA Alternate Federal Co-Chairwoman Leslie Durham. "DRA will learn from these findings by making improvements to our programs so that they meet the needs of job seekers and workers, and we encourage local leaders and practitioners to leverage the information from this report to their advantage."

CREC and EntreWorks collected and analyzed quantitative data derived from publicly available sources and qualitative input from focus groups, surveys, and case studies to offer key insights and recommendations in the report. The report offers several key insights including:

  • The Delta Region’s most prominent industry clusters overall are in healthcare, labor-intensive manufacturing, and high-tech infrastructure.

  • While occupation clusters have lagged national growth rates, certain occupations, especially those related to transportation and warehousing, were growing at rates far exceeding national averages (prior to COVID-19 disruption).

  • The Delta Region is home to a large population of potential workers, but residents face many employment obstacles including poverty and educational attainment, which is even more pronounced for people of color and women.

  • The Delta Region is home to a diverse set of post-secondary providers that are evenly distributed across four-year, two-year, and less-than-2-year institution categories; however, 60 percent of training and education programs offered by these institutions are offered at or above the bachelor’s level.

  • The Delta Region’s 296 apprenticeship programs are primarily offered by construction industry businesses and employ almost no women.

  • The supply of graduates from certificate and degree programs lags the number of job openings in most critical occupations, but most concerning is the lack of training and upskilling for the incumbent workforce.

  • Strong local, regional, and federal level partnerships are essential for early and long-term program success.

For more information on the Delta Research initiative and to read the full report, visit: https://dra.gov/research/delta-market-research/

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About the Delta Regional Authority

Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to promote and encourage the economic development of the lower Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt.  DRA invests in projects supporting transportation infrastructure, basic public infrastructure, workforce training, and business development.  DRA’s mission is to help create jobs, build communities, and improve the lives of those who reside in the 252 counties and parishes of the eight-state region.

About the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC)

CREC is an independent, 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization with a primary public service goal of helping regions compete by conducting research, providing technical assistance, and offering expert advice in the economic development, workforce development, and higher education fields. CREC promotes the importance of data and expert research to help inform evidence-based public policy decision making.

About EntreWorks Consulting

Based in Arlington, VA, EntreWorks Consulting (www.entreworks.net) is an economic development consulting and policy development firm focused on helping communities, businesses, and organizations achieve their entrepreneurial potential. EntreWorks Consulting helps regions to design, implement, and promote innovative economic development strategies, policies, and programs. Since its founding, EntreWorks has worked with customers in more than 46 US states and overseas.

DRA Media Contact:
Shawna Blair
202-515-1354
sblair@dra.gov