States and Job Creation

Governors pitch novel tactics to create jobs, By Pamela M. Prah, February 10, 2014, Stateline: “As the U.S. economy gains strength and states are in their best financial position in years, governors are proposing unconventional tactics to create jobs, especially in health care and high-tech. The approaches range from luring more immigrants to Detroit; making western New York the center for genomic research; to paying off nursing students’ college loans in New Mexico. In crafting their proposals, many governors are trying to respond to a common complaint from employers: They are ready to hire, but can’t find workers with the right skills…”

Unemployment, Job Training and Education

  • Big companies join Obama in initiative to help long-term unemployed, By Peter Baker, January 31, 2014, New York Times: “President Obama has persuaded some of the nation’s largest companies, including Walmart, Apple, General Motors and Ford, to revamp their hiring practices to avoid discriminating against applicants who have been out of work for a long stretch of time. Mr. Obama hosted a group of corporate chief executives at the White House on Friday to highlight those efforts and the use of presidential persuasion to help the jobless find work. In all, White House officials said, about 300 businesses have agreed to new hiring policies, including 21 of the nation’s 50 largest companies and 47 of the top 200…”
  • Obama wants job training revamped, By Jeff Mason, January 31, 2014, Columbus Dispatch: “President Barack Obama promised to overhaul federal job-training programs yesterday on the second leg of a tour intended to highlight his proposals to improve the fortunes of low- and middle-income Americans. Obama traveled to Wisconsin to discuss the efforts to ensure that training programs match up with the demand for jobs. It was part of a trip that will include a stop in Tennessee to discuss education. The trip is a follow-up to Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday, in which he called for greater economic fairness in a nation that is still recovering from the deep 2007-09 recession…”
  • Going back to college at 50, and why it’s a dream come true, By Luisa Deprez and Sandy Butler, January 24, 2014, Bangor Daily News: “When she graduated from Mount Desert Island High School in 1981, Kaloe ‘Kay’ Haslam was the first in her family to earn a high school degree. She took ‘business’ and ‘general’ classes rather than ‘college-bound’ courses. She had no aspirations to go to college, nor was she encouraged. ‘I never thought I could afford it,’ she said. ‘I was one of three in a single-parent family. It was like, ‘This isn’t anything I can afford to do.’ I basically just went to work.’ Her dream at the time was to work in an office. ‘I didn’t even care what I was doing in an office,’ she said. ‘I just wanted to work in an office.’ But living in a high-tourism area, office jobs were not widely available…”
  • Unemployment benefits dominate the agenda, By Ed O’Keefe, January 31, 2014, Washington Post: “Stephanie Ransom is 30, single and the mother of a 3-year-old girl. She has thousands of dollars in credit-card debt and suffers from a rare thoracic disorder that causes severe pain in her neck and shoulders. Last July, Ransom lost the job she’d had for nine years at a parts manufacturer in Walworth, Wis., and has not been able to find another one. That prolonged joblessness has become the defining feature of her life…”

Public Assistance Programs – Oregon

State officials struggle to reduce need for welfare, food stamps, By Yuxing Zheng, September 8, 2013, The Oregonian: “Jennifer Noonan sits outside behind her apartment on a recent weekday afternoon watching her two young children and their neighborhood friends push each other around in circles in a toy car. Noonan, 23, is a single mother who hasn’t worked since she quit her job two years ago as a play attendant at Fred Meyer. She and her children, Taima Willeto, 5, and Wenona Willeto, 3, live on $523 a month in food stamps, $506 a month in cash assistance for needy families, and they’re also on the Oregon Health Plan. They live in a two-bedroom apartment in east Portland that’s paid for largely through a federal Section 8 housing voucher, with Noonan paying $33 a month…”

Workforce Development

States want more control over workforce development money, By Melissa Maynard, August 15, 2013, Stateline: “States struggling to rebuild their workforces in the wake of staggering unemployment say they know better than the federal government how to make the most out of limited workforce development and job training dollars. Governors want more administrative control over programs funded through the Workforce Investment Act, now before Congress for an overhaul. As that discussion continues, the National Governors Association has a wish list…”

Jobs Opportunity and Basic Skills program – Oregon

More than half of public assistance recipients in job-training program found employment, report says, By Yuxing Zheng, August 8, 2013, The Oregonian: “Fifty-nine percent of public assistance recipients participating in a job-training program were able to find work, a recent report found. Of 574 participants who finished the program by June 2012, 339 found jobs, the report said. Reliance on public assistance, however, continued for many past participants in the program. The success of such job-training programs is key as state officials struggle to help needy individuals find jobs and get off — and stay off — welfare…”

Muskegon Chronicle Series on Jobs Market

  • Work in Progress: Under-employment could increase as employers hire temp and part-time jobs, By Stephen Kloosterman, July 16, 2013, MLive: “In the last few months, 32-year-old Amber Patton has worked at minimum wage cleaning hotel rooms – and, when she hurt her ankle and couldn’t work, she sat at home jobless. In an effort to bring some extra cash into her household, she even started doing chores for people she met on Craigslist.org, the popular online classifieds site: Everything from housecleaning to car-washing…”
  • Work in Progress: Long-term unemployed risk dropping out of the workforce, losing viability, By Stephen Kloosterman, July 16, 2013, MLive: “The effects of joblessness gradually filter down to the worker who stays unemployed. At 20 weeks, her state unemployment insurance will run out. At 27 weeks, she’ll be counted by the government as long-term unemployed, along with more than 4 million people nationally. With each passing month, she’s considered less employable by recruiters. Her federal unemployment insurance runs out at the 49-week mark…”
  • Work in Progress: Underground economy a ‘desperate’ option when jobs are lacking, By Lynn Moore, July 16, 2013, MLive: “He looks like he could be a college student, riding his bike around town and carrying a backpack with folders containing his papers. Except it was nearly 20 years ago that Damon Minor was a student at Michigan State University. The backpack is tattered with age and the folders hold documents chronicling his search for a job to replace the one he lost back in 2008. The bike is his only transportation, other than Muskegon County’s bus system. Minor asks people he barely knows if they have yard work to do, or heard of any odd jobs he could perform. At 38 years of age, the Muskegon man gets most of his money by mowing his neighbors’ lawn and donating his plasma twice a week. He is part of an underground economy – the ‘shadow’ economy, some call it – the size of which has been estimated as large as 8 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product…”
  • Work in Progress: Low-wage jobs do not have to be dead-end employment as Wesco shows, By Dave Alexander, July 17, 2013, MLive: “When Kristina Broughton landed a job as a retail clerk at the Spring Lake Wesco in 2010, the recent high school graduate was thrilled to go to work for relatively low wages. The 2009 Spring Lake High School graduate had left a Spring Lake Country Club job to join the more than 1,000 associates at the Muskegon-based convenience store/gasoline station leader. Broughton was not looking to support a family on the meager $7.40 minimum wage starting pay at Wesco, but she saw the job as a pathway to what she wanted: A college degree and a professional career…”

SNAP and Work Requirements – Wisconsin

Report: Job training rule for food stamps would trim rolls by half, By Jason Stein, May 20, 2013, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Requiring a job — or basic training for one — from able-bodied participants in the state’s food stamp program would cause about half of them to drop out, a total of tens of thousands of people statewide and 14,500 in Milwaukee, according to a new report. The new projections come from the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office, which last week released its analysis of Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to require 62,700 able-bodied adults without children in Wisconsin’s FoodShare program to work or attend bare-bones job training…”

Men’s Employment Programs

Let them work: Men’s work programs give families and communities a leg up, By Mercedes White, May 5, 2013, Deseret News: “During the 40-minute commute to his job at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 28-year-old Greg Walton often takes time to reflect on his blessings. As he drives through the heart of Boston, across the Charles River and into Cambridge, Mass., he marvels at his fortune: a beautiful wife, a healthy 19-month-old son, a home and a good job. It’s an impressive result for a kid who came into the world with the odds stacked against him…”

GED Testing Changes

  • Some fear new, high-tech GED a problem for low-income test takers, By James Fuller, March 4, 2013, Daily Herald: “The people who benefit the most by earning their GED will soon have the toughest time even getting access to the high school graduation equivalency credential, according to local test providers…”
  • Getting a GED? Changes putting everyone to the test, By Marquita Brown, March 2, 2013, Jackson Clarion-Ledger: “The almost 19,000 people enrolled in adult education classes across the state will need to pass all five sections of the GED test by Dec. 31 or have to start from scratch. The current version of the General Education Development test, developed by Washington, D.C.-based GED Testing Service as a high school equivalency exam, expires at the end of the year. And so will the scores of those who have passed some but not all sections of the test by that time. But many of the students lack the literacy skills needed to pass. And limited dollars further compounds the problem of providing remediation. GED Testing Service also is raising the cost to take the test from $75 to $120…”

The Unemployed and Job Retraining

Rare agreement: Obama, Romney, Ryan all endorse retraining for jobless—but are they right?, By Amy Goldstein, October 10, 2012, ProPublica.org: “In February 2008, six days before he would win the Wisconsin presidential primary, Barack Obama traveled to a General Motors plant in Janesville, Wis., for a major economic address. Janesville is a community of 63,000 on a bend in the Rock River near the Illinois line, three-fourths of the way up Interstate 90 from Chicago to Madison. On the sides of downtown buildings, pastel murals by area artists show scenes from the city’s past, hinting at its muscular civic spirit and outsized role in U.S. industry. ‘History. Vision. Sweat.’ is lettered across one mural’s bottom edge. The small city has been catapulted into public view as the hometown of this year’s Republican vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan. But long before, it was the home of Parker Pen. And for nearly a century, the soul of the local economy had been the Janesville Assembly Plant, where GM had started out making tractors and, in 1923, begun to build cars. The oldest operating automotive facility in the United States, it was even four years ago a storied site for a campaign speech…”

Jobs Recovery Favors Single, Younger Workers

Why the jobs recovery favors single workers, By Annalyn Censky, August 15, 2012, CNN Money: “As the economy slowly recovers, single people are finding jobs much faster than their married peers. Single men and women lost about 5 million jobs during the financial crisis, and have since gained back 90% of them, according to the Labor Department. That’s not too shabby, especially considering the jobs recovery has been so slow. But married people, who make up a slightly larger part of the adult population, lost even more jobs and have gained far fewer back. Of the 6 million jobs they lost, they’ve recouped only about 22%. Could employers be favoring single workers? That’s unlikely, economists say. The real story probably lies in other demographic factors. . .”

Joblessness Among Veterans

Some go extra mile to hire growing pool of jobless veterans, By Gregg Zoroya, March 20, 2012, USA Today: “Thomas Garlic and Steve Castillo found that their time in combat in Iraq and their service in the Army added up to little or nothing when they became civilians looking for work. ‘It was very depressing,’ says Garlic, 26, who lives with his wife and 5-year-old son outside Chicago. He was discharged in 2008 with post-traumatic stress disorder and has been largely jobless ever since. ‘Every time I would go up to bat, I would just strike out.’  ‘When I first got out (in 2008), I had a lot of motivation, a lot of high self-esteem, and everything was good,’ says Castillo, 31, a medically retired Army staff sergeant from Biloxi, Miss. But steady work eluded him as well. He lives on temporary, often-menial labor and an $1,800-per-month government disability check for his combat injuries. ‘We’re barely scratching by,’ Castillo says. As the nation grapples with finding work for its newest generation of combat veterans, job experts say that basic roadblocks persist for those willing to hire them: how to find these veterans and how to train them in new, non-military skills…”

Jobless Benefits and Job Training – Arizona

Legislation would let unemployed workers keep benefits during on-the-job training, By Howard Fischer, March 13, 2012, East Valley Tribune: “Arizonans who are out of work may soon be able to get on-the-job training without losing their unemployment benefits. On an 18-9 vote Monday, the Senate approved a program that continues the weekly checks without the recipients required to be out actively seeking a job. More to the point, they would be working at an Arizona business where they would be learning new skills. They would not be paid, other than their weekly unemployment checks. But Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, the sponsor of SB 1388, said she believes both the person who is out of work and the company will benefit…”

Public Colleges and Job Training

Where the jobs are, the training may not be, By Catherine Rampell, March 1, 2012, New York Times: “As state funding has dwindled, public colleges have raised tuition and are now resorting to even more desperate measures – cutting training for jobs the economy needs most. Technical, engineering and health care expertise are among the few skills in huge demand even in today’s lackluster job market. They are also, unfortunately, some of the most expensive subjects to teach. As a result, state colleges in Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Florida and Texas have eliminated entire engineering and computer science departments. At one community college in North Carolina – a state with a severe nursing shortage – nursing program applicants so outnumber available slots that there is a waiting list just to get on the waiting list. This squeeze is one result of the states’ 25-year withdrawal from higher education. During and immediately after the last few recessions, states slashed financing for colleges. Then when the economy recovered, most states never fully restored the money that had been cut. The recent recession has amplified the problem…”

Military Veterans and Unemployment

Veterans’ unemployment outpaces civilian rate, By Michael A. Fletcher, October 16, 2011, Washington Post: “As soon as Brian Joseph graduated from high school he joined the Army, where he was trained in a series of jobs that seem to exist only in the military. He was a multi-channel radio operator. Then he worked as a single-channel radio operator. Later, he worked as a psychological operations specialist, tailoring the U.S. war message to residents of Kosovo and, later, Iraq. But since leaving the Army in 2008, Joseph has found that the rigorous training he gained during 18 years of military service means little to civilian employers…”

Community College Enrollment – Michigan

Community colleges taking hits in Michigan, By David Jesse, September 30, 2011, Detroit Free Press: “Fewer students are enrolling and others are taking lighter class loads at Michigan’s community colleges, the result of federal worker retraining money drying up and health care reform that expanded a student exception to insurance rules. Federal health care law now allows part-time students to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies, which could account for a decline in credit hours as students look to save money by paring class loads. Enrollment at Michigan’s 28 community colleges is down 4% compared to last fall, and the number of credit hours taken is down 6%. Falling credit hours is a bigger deal to school officials than enrollment, because tuition revenue is based on classes taken and not enrollment…”

Young Men’s Initiative – New York City

  • Bloomberg to use own funds in plan to aid minority youth, By Michael Barbaro and Fernanda Santos, August 3, 2011, New York Times: “The administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in a blunt acknowledgment that thousands of young black and Latino men are cut off from New York’s civic, educational and economic life, plans to spend nearly $130 million on far-reaching measures to improve their circumstances. The program, the most ambitious policy push of Mr. Bloomberg’s third term, would overhaul how the government interacts with a population of about 315,000 New Yorkers who are disproportionately undereducated, incarcerated and unemployed…”
  • Can George Soros, Michael Bloomberg save New York’s troubled young men?, By Ron Scherer, August 4, 2011, Christian Science Monitor: “New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to improve the lives of young black and Hispanic males. On Thursday, Mr. Bloomberg announced that the city, combined with his own philanthropy and that of billionaire George Soros, would spend $127.5 million over three years to try to cut down on some of the factors that result in higher rates of poverty, incarceration, and unemployment among young minority men…”
  • A hand up, not a handout, for young black and Latino men, Editorial, August 4, 2011, Christian Science Monitor: “Blacks and Latinos took the brunt of America’s Great Recession. Their wealth gap with whites is now at a record high. And with large cutbacks in government social programs, there’s a greater need than ever for private giving to help these two groups. That’s the reasoning behind a $130 million initiative in New York City by two billionaires, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and financier George Soros, to target young male minorities with innovative approaches to helping them succeed – as workers and as fathers. Each man is giving $30 million to the public-private project. (Mr. Soros already funds many such programs in other cities.) Known as the Young Men’s Initiative, the three-year project is just the latest of dozens of programs started in recent years to focus on young African-American and Latino males – groups with dreadful rates of poverty, education, and employment…”

Low Wage Work – Florida, Ontario

  • Researcher: Low-wage job numbers a ’cause for concern’, By Marcos Restrepo, July 26, 2011, Florida Independent: “That Florida unemployment remained steady during the month of June and added manufacturing jobs are positive signs, but according to researcher Emily Eisenhauer, jobs have been added in low-wage industries. Eisenhauer, an associate at the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy at Florida International University, says that Florida still has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the U.S., but unemployment has come down over the last six months. The state has adding more than 85,000 jobs, but according to Eisenhauer, Florida is still missing about 700,000 jobs since the beginning of the recession in December 2007…”
  • High-pay jobs decline as low-pay jobs increase, By Alana Semuels, July 27, 2011, Los Angeles Times: “John Soto said he felt like he got “punched in the gut” when BMW announced that it planned to lay off him and other workers at an Ontario parts distribution warehouse and give their jobs to contract workers provided by a third-party company. “They wouldn’t do this in Germany,” said Soto, 46, referring to the labor-friendly policies in the country where BMWs are manufactured…
  • Lower-paying jobs dominate recovery, By Alana Semuels, July 26, 2011, Los Angeles Times: “The majority of jobs being created in this economic recovery are lower-paying ones, while higher-paying positions have been slow to return, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Employment Law Project. Lower-wage occupations such as sales and office clerks, cashiers and food preparation workers grew 3.2% in the first quarter of 2011 from a year earlier, the report said. In contrast, higher-wage jobs such as registered nurses, engineers and finance workers declined by 1.2%. Mid-wage positions such as paralegals, customer service representatives and machinists grew by 1.2%…”

Welfare-to-Work Program – Rhode Island

Welfare change lets parents get training before job hunting, By Philip Marcelo, July 25, 2011, Providence Journal: “Rhode Island welfare recipients will be able to do more than seek a job in order to initially earn their benefits, following a change included in this year’s state budget. Now, qualified parents will be able to immediately pursue work-related activities like vocational education and literacy classes, which would make them better- prepared for the job market, according to advocates. The new provision marks the most significant change lawmakers have made to the state welfare program since it was overhauled in 2008 under then-Republican Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, and renamed Rhode Island Works. It is also one victory that supporters of the poor can point to in a budget that slashed more than $78 million for human service programs for people who are elderly, disabled or have low incomes…”

The Recession and Job Retraining

Michigan town shows promise and pitfalls of job retraining, By Don Lee, July 10, 2011, Los Angeles Times: “When the Electrolux refrigerator factory shut down in 2006, idling almost 3,000 workers, this self-proclaimed Refrigerator Capital of the World put the last two locally produced units in a museum. And the town itself might follow – a once-thriving community overwhelmed by economic forces beyond its control and seemingly bound for history’s dustbin. Waves of layoffs hit other factories. New start-ups cut back. Hard times hit local stores, service firms and government agencies. Like hundreds of other American towns ravaged by the recession, Greenville learned how losing jobs can spread like a contagion through families and institutions that form the heart of a community. Things got so bad that a special office was created recently to help more than 1,000 schoolchildren who had no real homes. ‘It’s a heinous situation,’ said Brenda Greenhoe, director of the office. Greenville, though, is more than a sad story. It’s a petri dish for testing one of the most widely prescribed remedies for reviving troubled communities – job training…”