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Knoxville Chamber: Accessible transportation still serves as a major employment barrier

As the economic recovery starts, experts say one key to filling more jobs is ensuring accessible and reliable public transportation.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Lack of transportation serves as a barrier for many searching for a job, and not having accessible ways for people to get around can also impact economic recovery.

"We know that one of the barriers to employment, or a lot of individuals, is transportation, and that a lot of times that means either no transportation, or more frequently unreliable transportation," said Amy Nolan, vice president of Regional Enhancement at the Knoxville Chamber.

It’s an issue that is keeping many jobs from being filled, even as the economy starts to recover after COVID-19.

At times, close to 350,000 Tennesseans were unemployed during the pandemic.

Now, the Knoxville Chamber is tackling this issue to connect people to open jobs again.

 "Transportation is a barrier, we do know that. We have underserved areas, and I think quantifying that demand is going to be really important," said Nolan.

Now they've begun the work of fixing that exact problem right here in Knoxville.

"We do have, like I said, a volunteer workforce transportation task force. Eliminating barriers is really a key to getting the adults or region back to full employment," Nolan said.

Nolan said transportation is not the only barrier that needs to be fixed, saying access to childcare also remains a high priority to ensure people have resources to work and care for their family.