For Immediate Release: December 04, 2009
Jobs Creation Should Also Focus on Low-Income, Low-Skill Populations
(Washington, D.C.) As the nation's lawmakers consider strategies to get more Americans back to work, they should weigh a range of policy solutions that will ensure workers and families hardest hit have the supports they need to access jobs and meet their basic needs, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) said today.
Just one day after the White House jobs summit, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly unemployment report, which shows that the nation's jobless rate remains high at 10 percent. The jobless rate historically has been higher for low-income and low-skill populations and now is no different. Workers without a high school diploma have an unemployment rate of 15 percent. Women-headed households have an 11.4 percent unemployment rate. And for black and Hispanic workers, the unemployment rate is 15.6 percent and 12.7 percent respectively.
"Job creation strategies should focus on putting more Americans to work in the short term, but they should also focus on long-term solutions that provide the most vulnerable populations with the skills they need to access jobs, provide for their families and contribute to the economy," said Evelyn Ganzglass, director of workforce development at CLASP. "Without long-term solutions that equip more workers with the skills they need to access employment, the economy won't truly recover for all Americans.
"Further, workers and their families also need supports to meet their basic needs and stay afloat as they search for employment or acquire the skills needed to access good jobs in growth areas of the economy," Ganzglass added.
In a recent report, Job Creation: Creating Work and Learning Opportunities for Low-Income Americans, CLASP outlines strategies that can provide low-income populations with the skills they need to attain and maintain employment. These strategies include subsidizing work and learning through the Workforce Investment Act, including funding for summer employment for youth (ages 16 to 24) who have extremely high unemployment rates, funding transitional jobs for populations with barriers to employment, and funding other employment and training opportunities. The report also recommends that Congress extend the availability of funding under the TANF Emergency Fund, which can be used to create subsidized jobs for members of low-income families.
At this time of serious long-term unemployment, federal jobless benefits provide a lifeline to unemployed workers and their families. But the federal emergency unemployment compensation program is set to expire at the end of the year. If this happens, roughly one million Americans will lose their federal jobless benefits in January.
To further help workers, Congress should swiftly pass legislation introduced earlier this week by Rep. Jim McDermott and Sen. Jack Reed that would renew provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that extend the federal emergency unemployment compensation program, Ganzglass said. This legislation also strengthens and expands state work sharing programs, which can provide employers with an alternative to layoffs.
It is now clear that the recession will be longer and deeper than was anticipated when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed in February. The effects on unemployment, poverty, and state and local budgets will continue well beyond September 2010. Congress also should act promptly to extend ARRA assistance to states and localities. States will be establishing their FY 2011 budgets in the next months, and only prompt action can avert layoffs and deep service cuts that will affect some of the most vulnerable individuals and families. In addition, Congress should invest in direct supports to families most hurt by the recession and ensure that they have what they need to continue to provide for their families.
To learn more about how safety net programs can respond to the jobs crisis and help vulnerable Americans make it through tough times, view CLASP's testimony to the House on the safety net's response to the recession.