A + is committed to supporting districts as they meet the needs of their students while continuing to ask the important questions. At this time one such question is: which areas of the state are most vulnerable economically and how might that impact students?
We know that students who are eligible for free and reduced price lunch may be particularly vulnerable at this time as they often depend on school meals for nutrition. Many efforts have been made to ensure students access to healthy meals while schools are not in session and we applaud and are grateful for those efforts. However, the effects of this crisis may go beyond nutritional needs for many of those students.
A new report from the Brookings institute indicates that localities with higher than average concentration of workers in leisure and hospitality industries are poised to take the largest economic hit. Colorado has many workers employed in service sectors throughout the state. These families may be facing additional hardships as many household breadwinners are experiencing unexpected unemployment.
We took a look at which communities might be hardest hit, but understanding which Colorado counties had both 1) large populations of students eligible for free or reduced price lunch, and 2) had a higher than average number of jobs at risk. To answer this latter question, we looked at counties with high numbers of jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry, using a “location quotient.” The location quotient is calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is an indicator of the representation of jobs in a specific sector. A rating of one is the average. Higher than one represents an area with an above average employment in the specific sector. Lower than one, is less than average.
On the high end of the spectrum for at risk jobs and FRPL eligibility, fall Gilpin and Arapahoe counties. Counties such as Teller and San Juan have both relatively high concentrations of at-risk jobs as well as high numbers of students eligible for free or reduced priced lunch. We feel it is important to draw attention to these places as a reminder to policymakers to adopt learning and economic policies with this- one of their most vulnerable- group of students in mind.
How to read this map: The higher number of students eligible for free or reduced price lunch in a district the darker blue the dot. The higher number of at risk jobs in the county, the darker it appears on the map.
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