Southside Works’ Career Fairs at Pittsburgh Yards

Posted February 26, 2024
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
The scene is a job fair. In the foreground: An extreme closeup of two Black men shaking hands. In the background: A diverse group of people mingle.

In the sum­mer of 2023, South­side Works, an Atlanta-based col­lab­o­ra­tive focused on job train­ing and career con­nec­tions, began host­ing career fairs at Pitts­burgh Yards. These youth-tar­get­ed events — spon­sored by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion — encour­aged employ­ers to recruit from Atlanta’s often over­looked South­side and is help­ing inform the suc­cess of future job fairs.

We’ve held two career fairs at Pitts­burgh Yards. At our sec­ond fair in Novem­ber, the num­ber of atten­dees dou­bled from 30 peo­ple to 60,” says Ade Ogun­toye, a senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foun­da­tion. The events been a great way for job­seek­ers and employ­ers to con­nect and learn from one another.”

Cre­at­ing Eco­nom­ic Oppor­tu­ni­ty on Atlanta’s Southside

As South­side Works plans two Pitts­burgh Yards career fairs for 2024, orga­niz­ers will draw on three take­aways from 2023’s events:

  1. Young peo­ple deserve high-qual­i­ty employ­ment. One impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion for the fair plan­ners was attract­ing com­pa­nies that offer com­pet­i­tive pay. Ide­al­ly, we’d like the employ­ers that attend the careers fairs to offer jobs that start at $20 an hour,” Ogun­toye notes. This isn’t always an easy ask, but the real­i­ty is that young peo­ple need careers that pay a liv­ing wage.”
  2. Every­one is wel­come. Although the events are intend­ed to con­nect res­i­dents of Atlanta’s South­side to employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties, they’re open to job­seek­ers from across Georgia.
  3. Trans­for­ma­tion­al, not trans­ac­tion­al. Although the career fairs help con­nect young peo­ple to jobs, they are more broad­ly focused on cre­at­ing eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ty on Atlanta’s South­side. It’s great when some­one can come to one of these events and walk out with a job offer but that’s not the only goal,” says Ogun­toye. Anoth­er pri­or­i­ty is help­ing employ­ers rec­og­nize the south side of Atlanta as a place with a tal­ent­ed, hard­work­ing labor pool they can draw from.”

Income and Employ­ment in Atlanta

Accord­ing to data from the Atlanta Wealth Build­ing Ini­tia­tive, the city of Atlanta had the high­est income inequal­i­ty in the nation in 2022. While the medi­an house­hold income in Atlanta is rough­ly $69,000, the medi­an income of Black house­holds in the city is under $40,000 as of 2023.

At the same time, the city is expe­ri­enc­ing record-high employ­ment. Over the past 14 years, Atlanta’s unem­ploy­ment rate dipped from 13% in 2009 to rough­ly 6% in 2023. For the city’s Black house­holds dur­ing the same peri­od, unem­ploy­ment plum­met­ed from 21% in 2009 to 9% in 2023.

The data sup­ports that all peo­ple, includ­ing Black peo­ple, are will­ing to work. How­ev­er, Black men and women are more like­ly to be under­paid for doing the same jobs,” says Ogun­toye. In addi­tion to inequitable pay, the pre­dom­i­nant­ly Black house­holds on Atlanta’s South­side face bar­ri­ers such as afford­able hous­ing, lack of pub­lic trans­porta­tion and acces­si­ble child care.”

South­side Works’ career fairs offer an oppor­tu­ni­ty to res­i­dents and area stake­hold­ers. Although the events alone can­not elim­i­nate the employ­ment and eco­nom­ic bar­ri­ers faced by Black Atlantans, they con­nect Black youth to qual­i­ty employ­ment and com­bat income inequal­i­ty while help­ing the Foun­da­tion, South­side Works and local employ­ers bet­ter under­stand and learn from the city’s jobseekers.

Learn more about South­side Works

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