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House Proposes Drastic Cuts to Workforce Programs Serving the Unemployed and Low-Income Adults and Youth

Feb 16, 2011

By Neil Ridley

See related article on President Obama's budget proposal for FY 2012 >> 

The House proposal to eliminate funding for workforce development programs is counterproductive, especially during this time when many Americans are still struggling to find jobs and build necessary skills to secure better jobs.

Last week, the House released a Continuing Resolution, which would keep the government running through the remainder of FY 2011. It proposed cuts totaling $100 billion. The elimination of new funding for the adult, dislocated worker and youth programs under the Workforce Investment Act is one of the most significant cuts. For Program Year 2011, which begins on July 1, there would be no new funding to provide services or operate one-stop career centers. Other proposed cuts include a significant reduction in funding used to respond to major layoffs across the country and elimination of funding for YouthBuild and a national ex-offender initiative.

The proposed cuts to Workforce Investment Act programs are being offered at a time when unemployment has remained at or above 9 percent for a record 21 months. Lawmakers should take a hard look at this program that builds skills and helps prepare people for work. In fact, even in the face of challenging labor market conditions, the public workforce system helped more than 8 million adults and youth during the past year.

While it is important to begin a conversation about the size of the debt and federal deficit, it is equally important to maintain critical employment and training programs that help many Americans find jobs and build skills necessary to secure better jobs. The spending cuts, if approved, would slash programs that are the "front line" for many unemployed workers and low-income adults and youth and would hinder rather than promote the nation's economic recovery.

In addition, employers' need for skilled workers will continue to grow as they recover from the recession and begin to expand. A national survey conducted by Deloitte, the Manufacturing Institute, and Oracle found that even in 2009, nearly a third of companies were experiencing difficulties in recruiting skilled workers.

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