In Focus: Transitional Jobs

Feb 16, 2011  |  PERMALINK »

What if?

What if, instead of giving people who want to work a little bit of money, and making them jump through all sorts of hoops to prove that they're really looking for work, you just gave them a job? What if you gave employers who want to expand, but don't have the cash flow to justify a new hire, a subsidy to let them bring on new employees? What if you encouraged them to give workers they might not otherwise hire - someone who didn't go to college, or someone who once went to jail -- a chance to prove they could do the job?

Last year, 39 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and eight Tribal TANF programs received approval to use $1.3 billion from the TANF Emergency Fund to do just that. These programs placed more than 260,000 low-income parents and youth in paid jobs during a time of high unemployment. In a new report, CLASP and CBPP examine the subsidized jobs programs that were created or expanded under the Emergency Fund, and the lessons learned.

In a short period of time, programs funded by the TANF Emergency Fund placed a substantial number of people in subsidized jobs. These programs proved that that unemployed individuals - receiving TANF or not - will seize the opportunity to work when provided with a paying job. Moreover, the programs demonstrated the feasibility of creating cost-effective, publicly funded jobs in the private and public sectors on a large scale during a downturn.

While funding from the Emergency Fund expired on September 30, 2010, the need for jobs remains. Although most states were unable to sustain their subsidized employment programs at their previous levels after the fund expired, many states are attempting to maintain scaled-down versions of them. Federal policymakers should also build on the lessons of the TANF Emergency Fund as they reauthorize both TANF and workforce investment act programs.

Sep 29, 2010  |  PERMALINK »

Program That Helped Alleviate Hardship, Create Jobs Set to End Thursday

Pacifica Radio posted a segment on the TANF Emergency Fund's expiration that quotes Ms. Lower-Basch. Listen to the segment.

By Elizabeth Lower-Basch

Most of the tens of thousands of individuals working at jobs subsidized by the TANF Emergency Fund will work their last day tomorrow, receive their last paycheck, and then try to figure out what happens next.

This is because on Sept. 30, 2010, the TANF Emergency Fund expires.  States will no longer be able to receive federal funding for increased spending on cash assistance, short-term benefits, or subsidized jobs.   This is incredibly disappointing. Millions in the nation face unprecedented hardship, and this program helped to alleviate some of that hardship.

The TANF Emergency Fund was created in February 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to assist states in expanding services during the recession.   At that time, most people did not realize how deep or long-lasting the recession would be.  Congress did not expect that in September 2010, unemployment would still be stuck at nearly 10 percent.  CLASP has been calling for an extension of the Emergency Fund since January, and such an extension was included in President Obama's budget proposal for FY 2011.  The House has included such an extension in several bills, but the Senate has failed to pass an extension of the Emergency Fund.

The last attempt occurred Tuesday, when Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Robert Casey (D-Penn.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) sought "unanimous consent" for a stop-gap measure that would have extended the program for three months.  However, Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi objected to the motion, and it failed.

Although this program has received widespread and bi-partisan support at the state and local levels, the Republican leadership in the Senate has refused to allow it to be included in the Continuing Resolution, the bill that will extend government operations until all FY 2011 budget bills pass.

Fortunately, all is not lost for some workers. Illinois used TANF Emergency Fund dollars to employ more than 26,000 people since April through its Putting Illinois to Work program. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced recently the state would use its own funds to continue the program for two months.   This will allow workers to stay on the job while the state waits to see whether Congress will revive the Emergency Fund when it returns to session after the November elections.

Dec 18, 2009  |  PERMALINK »

2010 Appropriations Bill Includes New Funds to Help Disadvantaged Workers

By Neil Ridley

The 2010 federal appropriations bill provides for the first time federal funding for transitional jobs to help people with barriers to employment, such as ex-offenders and long-term welfare recipients, enter the workforce.

Transitional Jobs programs provide access to employment for individuals who have little or no work experience and multiple barriers to employment. The programs combine time-limited subsidized employment with a comprehensive set of services, such as basic education, job skills training, and case management.  See Making the Employment Connection or Earning and Learning: Options under the Workforce Investment Act for more information.

Given the challenges facing many jobseekers in the current labor market, this new federal investment in such a promising employment strategy comes at a critical time. The bill includes $45 million for transitional jobs, $15 million of which is dedicated to employment strategies for ex-offenders, who often have extreme difficulties finding employment after they have completed their sentences.

Transitional Jobs programs work. This week, MDRC released an evaluation of transitional jobs for welfare recipients that revealed:

  • Participants assigned to the transitional jobs program experienced a more than 20 percent increase in employment compared to the control group.
  • Participants earned nearly $1,000 more than the control group over 18 months.
  • Employment gains were not limited to the subsidized jobs - there was almost 10 percent increase in the share that ever held an unsubsidized job.

Further, a previous evaluation of transitional jobs for ex-offenders found both employment impacts and a reduction in recidivism.

Funding Transitional Jobs programs is part of CLASP's recommendations for putting more Americans back to work. View Jobs Creation: Creating Work and Learning Opportunities for Low-Income Populations to learn more.

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