For Immediate Release: December 17, 2009

Jobs Measure a Good First Step for Low-Income Workers, But More Targeted Interventions Are Needed

The House late Wednesday passed the Jobs for Main Street Act, a bill that includes provisions that would aid the long-term unemployed, invest in job training programs, and provide tax relief to low-income, working families. Specifically, the bill aids struggling workers and their families by extending emergency unemployment benefits for six months, providing $2 billion for various hiring and training programs, and making the Child Tax Credit available to all low-income working families.  Following is a statement about the bill by Evelyn Ganzglass, director of workforce development at CLASP.

"This time of extraordinarily high unemployment and widespread economic hardship calls for bold solutions that will put people back to work or provide them with the training they need to access jobs and stay employed. The Jobs for Main Street Act is a critical and needed first step, but it alone won't solve the nation's jobs crisis.

"The bill recognizes that the nation needs short- and long-term solutions:  unemployed workers need a safety net that will help them make ends meet during this tough economic time, and workers need to acquire the skills necessary to access good jobs.  The nation's jobs creation strategy should also include subsidized employment and on-the-job training opportunities for low-income workers, year-round youth jobs programs, jobs programs for populations with barriers to employment, and wage subsidies. In addition, the work sharing unemployment insurance program, which can help avert layoffs, should be expanded.

"Far too many of our nation's families are struggling to access jobs and meet their basic needs. The official unemployment rate is 10 percent, but we know it is far higher when those who have settled for part-time employment and workers who are discouraged and have stopped looking are considered.

"If the jobs situation is a problem for the nation, it is a profound crisis for low-income workers and their families, especially people of color, workers who lack some postsecondary credentials, and disadvantaged youth.  Workers without high school diplomas, blacks and Latinos have unemployment rates 25 to 50 percent higher than the national average. Further, the unemployment rate for youth in high poverty communities rose eight points this November to 49.4 percent, putting them at risk of long-term economic marginalization.

 "Jobs for Main Street is a critical first step toward addressing the nation's jobs crisis. But to truly provide opportunity for all American workers, including low-income workers, youth and other populations who have suffered the greatest job losses, more targeted interventions are needed. "

To view CLASP's recommendations on jobs creation strategies for low-income populations, go to: http://www.clasp.org/admin/site/publications/files/Job-Creation-Fact-Sheet_Final-for-Webrevised.pdf .

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