Pathways Back to Work Act Introduced
Jul 23, 2013
By Neil Ridley
Four years after the official end of the Great Recession, the economy is improving, but the nation is struggling with weak job growth and high unemployment. Long-term unemployment in particular remains at record levels: nearly two out of five of the unemployed, or about 4 million workers, have been out of work for more than six months and large numbers have been jobless for more than a year. Numerous studies confirm that it is very difficult for long-term unemployed workers to re-enter the workforce.
Rep. George Miller (D-CA), together with other House members, recently introduced the Pathways Back to Work Act, which is modeled on provisions in the President’s FY 2014 budget request. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) introduced the bill in the Senate. The bill would create work and educational opportunities for long-term unemployed workers and low-income adults and youth, who are at risk of being left behind as the economy recovers from the Great Recession.
Of the total $12.5 billion under the Pathways Back to Work Act, $8 billion would be available for subsidized employment and supportive services for adults. Governors would have the option of administering the program through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) agencies or local workforce boards under the Workforce Investment Act or a combination of the two.
The subsidized job strategies supported by the Pathways Back to Work Act are a promising way to give unemployed and disadvantaged workers the opportunity to earn wages, build skills, and connect to the labor market, while also giving businesses an incentive to hire new employees when they might not have been able to do so otherwise. For example, the successful, two-year program funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided job opportunities for about 260,000 people in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Researchers who examined the implementation of ARRA workforce programs found that paid work opportunities can be used even for experienced unemployed workers who need to rebuild their confidence and prepare for reemployment.