Washington, D.C. — Although overall unemployment in the United States has fallen in recent years, certain populations continue to suffer disproportionate rates of unemployment, including older workers, the long-term unemployed, people with criminal records, people with disabilities, and people with limited education or work experience. These workers are often the last to be hired—even in good times—and the first to be laid off in tough times. A new report released today by the Center for American Progress proposes a national subsidized jobs program—modeled after successful initiatives implemented in states with Republican and Democratic governors alike—to improve employment opportunities for those groups disproportionately affected by unemployment. CAP’s proposal would use competitive grants to enable states to create targeted work opportunities to help unemployed workers get a foothold in the labor market.
“Policymakers on both sides of the aisle—in Congress and in governorships—have already recognized the tremendous potential of subsidized jobs programs. States from Missouri to Pennsylvania have seen that subsidized jobs work,” said Rachel West, Senior Policy Analyst for the Poverty to Prosperity Program at CAP and lead author of the report. “A national subsidized jobs program would help lift unemployed workers out of poverty, especially those traditionally hit hardest by economic downturns.”
“A national subsidized jobs program is a win-win situation: It would enable disadvantaged workers to get a foothold in the labor market, give local businesses the opportunity to train new employees, and strengthen our national economy,” said Rebecca Vallas, Director of Policy for the Poverty to Prosperity Program and a co-author of the report. “In conjunction with a broader full-employment strategy that includes a higher minimum wage and widespread job creation, subsidized jobs offer a powerful tool for putting people back to work and boosting economic mobility.”
“All workers should have the opportunity to climb the ladder of opportunity, and a national subsidized jobs program would help ensure that more workers can reach that first rung,” said Melissa Boteach, Vice President of Poverty to Prosperity Program and a co-author of the report. “Such a program would also give states flexibility to create employment opportunities for workers who have had trouble finding employment through the usual channels.”
The CAP report provides a framework for a national subsidized jobs program that would address persistent joblessness, particularly among people with criminal records, disabilities, and other barriers to work. CAP’s proposal would:
- Facilitate job placement for specific disadvantaged groups and set aside a share of funding or build in incentives for states to serve a high share of individuals who have multiple barriers to employment
- Immediately provide participants with a work-based source of income, as well as prepare participants for an eventual transition to unsubsidized employment
- Allow states flexibility to determine how each target population is served
- Provide wraparound support services for participants on an as-needed basis
- Integrate countercyclical measures into the program design so that it would serve as an automatic stabilizer during economic downturns
Click here to read “A Subsidized Jobs Program for the 21st Century” by Rachel West, Rebecca Vallas, and Melissa Boteach.
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Allison Preiss at 202.478.6331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.