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Broward is projected as a top place for black workers, McKinsey says

Downtown Fort Lauderdale, long overlooked, is experiencing a startling resurgence as new high-rise residential projects spring up. A construction crane marks the spot where the 100 Las Olas hotel and condo tower, which will be Broward County’s tallest building, is under construction.
Downtown Fort Lauderdale, long overlooked, is experiencing a startling resurgence as new high-rise residential projects spring up. A construction crane marks the spot where the 100 Las Olas hotel and condo tower, which will be Broward County’s tallest building, is under construction. cjuste@miamiherald.com

Broward’s black population is booming.

So it makes sense that the county is now home to one of the country’s best labor markets for African Americans, according to a new report from consulting giant McKinsey.

Broward ranked eighth among areas with the most projected net job growth for African Americans, with a forecast of more than 25,000 net new jobs by 2030.

Broward made the list because it is rapidly becoming one of the most diverse counties in the nation. Census data show that while three in five county residents were white in 2000, today the county is almost evenly split between whites, blacks, and Hispanics — with the black population gaining most each year.

McKinsey found that South Florida — the region stretching from Miami-Dade County to Palm Beach County — is set to see a disproportionate increase in African-American employment compared with the rest of the nation.

“[South Florida] is not quite a megacity, but it is a high-growth hub,” said Jason Wright, a partner at McKinsey and one of the co-authors of the report. “Based on places where job-growth clusters are expected,” he said, black workers in South Florida stand to benefit.

What is less clear is how well those jobs will pay. At the moment, there is a greater percentage of black residents in Broward with bachelor’s degrees (21.3%) than in U.S. as a whole; however, that figure is falling as the overall black population in Broward increases. Black Broward residents currently have a median income of $46,787, compared with $40,232 nationally, but the median income among black Broward residents has begun showing signs of stagnating.

In addition, jobs disproportionately represented in the black community, such as cashiers and retail salespersons, are more likely to face automation in the coming decade than jobs more likely held by white workers, McKinsey says. While 22.4% of white workers in the U.S. will see their jobs disrupted, 23.1% of black workers will. Broward will not be immune from this trend.

Still, South Florida stands out as a veritable haven in what McKinsey describes as an overall deteriorating scenario for black workers nationwide.

“By 2030, the employment outlook for African Americans —particularly men, younger workers (ages 18–35), and those without a college degree — may worsen dramatically,” McKinsey says.

Making matters worse nationally: Unlike black workers in South Florida, the average black worker in America now tends to be “geographically removed from future job growth centers and more likely to be concentrated in areas of job decline.

“These trends, if not addressed, could have a significant negative effect on the income generation, wealth, and stability of African American families,” the report concludes.

And while 20% of black Americans have started their own companies, only 4% of black Americans have created “established” ones, defined as having salaried employees for more than 3.5 years. In the white population, 12% have started their own companies; 9% overall have created established business.

“The financial system still has barriers to black entrepreneurship,” Wright said. “There remain extreme barriers when it comes to access to capital ... and debt financing to build and grow one’s business, especially at critical stages.”

Addressing these challenges, McKinsey says, will require targeted cooperation between public, private, and educational stakeholders.

“There remain clear avenues for intervention to ease the transition into this new automated world,” McKinsey states in the report. “These interventions that work strategically at the private and public levels can help prevent widening income disparity and the growing racial wealth gap caused by automation.”

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