Leveraging Infrastructure Investment Jobs

Poverty Reduction Strategy no. 5

Create jobs for residents currently living in poverty when investing in local infrastructure.

Invest in sustainability and create jobs and income for low-income people.

Infrastructure investment can be used for poverty reduction by creating jobs for workers currently in poverty, finding efficiencies in public services, and incentivizing private investment to create double-bottom line benefits.

Action: Implement local hiring policies and hire from disadvantaged populations.

Additional Benefits: Increased employment opportunities for low-income workers and wages that are spent locally.

Stakeholders: Workers, city departments, local construction companies, state and federal infrastructure funding decisionmakers.

Where it’s been done: In 2015, New Orleans passed a “Hire NOLA” law, which requires 50 percent local hiring for public contracts, 30 percent of which must be from a disadvantaged population by 2020. Cities may need national and state help to realize the full poverty reduction potential of infrastructure investment. For example, federal policy has prohibited the application of such ordinances to federal funds, but in 2015 the US Department of Transportation launched a pilot to enable local hiring requirements on select projects.

  • Best Practice #1

    Metropolitan Transit Authority

    Los Angeles, CA: Metropolitan Transit Authority, Los Angeles' public transit agency has a targeted hiring requirement in certain local and federally funded construction projects (that cost more than $2.5 million). According to the labor agreement created in 2013, 40% of the workers must be residents of economically disadvantaged areas (zipcodes with median incomes less than $40,000), 10% disadvantaged workers (homeless, single parent, criminal record, etc.), and 20% apprentice participation.

  • Best Practice #2

    Verde Landscape

    Portland, OR: Verde Landscape began as a program to provide employment to residents of an affordable housing building and has expanded to other low-income residents of Cully, a Latinx neighborhoods facing displacement threat in Portland. The four-year intensive training program teaches soft and hard skills to trainees while paying them living wages.

  • Best Practice #3


    Pittsburgh, PA: Landforce provides a 6 month traineeship in workforce training, land stewardship, financial empowerment. Works with other employers to identify future employment opportunities for the trainees. Wraparound services provided such as paying childcare support, getting drivers license etc.

  • Best Practice #4

    MSD's JobLink

    Louisville, KY: Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), is working with local partners to create a diverse workforce by evaluating workforce needs depending on their capital investment plan. Along with training, mentorship programs and hiring from women and minority businesses, MSD has created a consolidated online tool, JobLink. The tool matches contarctors with local trained workers in the water sector.

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