0 Comment(s) | Posted |

Community Needs Assessment Report

Goodwill of Western Missouri & Eastern Kansas


Community Needs Assessment Report

Significant gaps in employment, education, income and

workforce development services for the ‘forgotten middle’ 

Biggest barriers to employment include transportation,

childcare, and lack of education and training


Kansas City, MO (Sept. 13, 2017)Interim President and CEO Kevin Bentley today announced the release of the Community Assessment report. The report studied Jackson County’s needs and assets within the employment sector and sought to better understand the demographics of the Kansas City metro area in order to better serve the community.  The report revealed significant gaps in employment, education, income and workforce development services for the “forgotten middle”, those seeking middle-skill jobs which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree.  The full report can be found online at Goodwill of Western Missouri & Eastern Kansas.

Bentley stated, “Goodwill was eager to take on a comprehensive Community Needs Assessment focused on the employment challenges faced by the disadvantaged and different abled members of the Kansas City community.” He continued, “This report represents both an ending and a beginning. It is the end of an 18 month effort to compile data in a way to identify how workforce development services in Kansas City can have a bigger impact. For Goodwill, it is a beginning as we move into the next phase of mission advancement using this report as a map to guide our journey.”


Statistical and informational data for the community needs assessment was gathered through a series of perception surveys (140), community conversations (89), one-on-one community interviews (35), and participation in community meetings (20). In addition, Jackson County demographics and trends were gathered and reviewed.


Despite the lower unemployment rates of approx. 5% in the United States, there are roughly 367,099 in the civilian labor force in Jackson County and 15,441 were unemployed as of April 2017.

The largest gap is within “Missouri’s Forgotten Middle”, a current crisis in Missouri. Middle-skill jobs which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree make up the largest part of America’s and Missouri’s labor market. Key industries in Missouri are unable to find sufficiently trained workers to fill these jobs. 54% of all Missouri Jobs in 2012 were middle-skill jobs. 47% of the state’s labor force is trained to the middle-skill level.

Workforce Development Services

The State of Missouri is home to 36,722 non-profit organizations; more than double our neighbor Kansas with 17,418. There are 18 certified rehabilitation providers within the Kansas City region and 47 employment service providers. Of the 65 providers spanning both disabilities and workforce development, 70% provide services in the urban core while only about 15% provide services to the rural areas of Jackson County.


Seventy-four school districts make up the Kansas City metro area. Nineteen of those districts serve 70% of the residents. In recent years, economic mobility has stagnated. According to the 2014 study by Pew Charitable Trusts, 70% of children raised in the bottom fifth of the income distribution will remain below the middle of the income ladder as adults. At the core of the mobility stagnation is the fact that 30 million Americans lack a high school diploma. That number equates to 20% of America’s working-age adults who lack the foundational credential to enter in the mainstream workforce.


According to U.S. Census data, the poverty rate in Jackson County is 17.6% above both that of Missouri at 13.5% and the United States at 14.8%. The median household income is $48,212 which is roughly $5,000 less than the median household income for the State of Missouri as a whole but significantly lower than that of the Kansas City metro area by $12,000. There is a salary discrepancy between male and female salaries; males are making on average $58,299 and females $41,858, a difference of almost $17,000 annually. White females ages 25-34 are the largest group experiencing poverty most often; however, African American and Latino females in this same age range experience a more severe poverty disparity at almost three times more likely.

Employment Barriers

The biggest barriers to employment were transportation, childcare, legal history and lack of education and training. 85% of those answering our surveys were underemployed, working twenty hours or less and making $25,000 annually or less in the last twelve months. The respondents wanted positions that offered wage progression and advancement opportunity, a full (er) compensation package, more flexible (regular) schedule and were closer to home because of transportation reliability and amount of transportation resources available. Overwhelmingly, respondents were interested in seeking skills training opportunities to advance their careers.

Jackson County businesses are looking to fulfill their diversity and inclusion hiring initiatives but need more support in diversity and inclusivity hiring practices, a trustworthy relationship with their nonprofit talent organizations and an ongoing talent pipeline to draw from.

Next Steps

Goodwill will begin a tour within the private and public sector leadership to reveal and discuss the findings of the report in details.

 As part of its vision to be the leader in innovative practices that promote individual self-sustainability for people who have been marginalized, Goodwill will collaborate with community partners to create a continuum of services and programs, organizing program efforts around four primary strategies: Engage, Retain, Remain and Advance. Each of these strategies will encompass employment efforts surrounding progression of wage, transitional employment, on-the-job training, job placement and retention supports. Imbedded in this continuum of employment will be consistent assessment, case management, financial services and program evaluation.

Those interested in learning more, please contact Lauren Solidum, Vice President of Mission Advancement at 816.629.0120 or LSolidum@mokangoodwill.org.

Find a Location

Monica's Story

Monica's Story

Read Stories of Our Mission in Action
Sign Up for GoodNews