60 Minutes: A Jobs Program for Workers ‘Trapped in Unemployment’
Posted by: Mitchell Hirsch on Feb 21, 2012
The CBS News program '60 Minutes' this week featured a powerful segment on the crisis of long-term unemployment, focusing on the Connecticut-based jobs initiative for those who have exhausted unemployment benefits called 'Platform to Employment.'
(note: Click on the screen image to play the video. It will open in a new window -- please watch and then return here to read the rest of this post.)
We were among the first to promote this promising initiative on our blog last summer prior to the initial 'Platform to Employment' (P2E) program launch.
Earlier this month, the WorkPlace, Inc. announced it had received a $200,000 grant from the AARP Foundation to help support P2E efforts to recruit and assist workers over 50 years of age, who make up a high proportion of those exhausting unemployment insurance benefits among the long-term unemployed.
The need for programs that offer real jobs and provide meaningful reemployment services for long-term unemployed job-seekers far outstrips the capacity of a single pilot program such as this P2E initiative in southwestern Connecticut. Just last week, the federal General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a study reporting that, through 2011, 5.5 million workers had exhausted all available unemployment insurance benefits without finding new work.
Among the 15 million workers who lost jobs from 2007 to 2009, half received Unemployment Insurance (UI), and about one-fourth of the recipients exhausted UI benefits by January 2010. This represents 2 million displaced workers who exhausted UI as of early 2010, the most recent survey data available. Labor estimated that about an additional 3-1/2 million individuals exhausted benefits in 2010 and 2011.
Unfortunately, as we reported here last week, those numbers are likely to rise again this year due in part to phased reductions in the duration of federal unemployment insurance benefits included in the recently-passed tax-and-UI extension legislation.
Indeed, the potential is great for workers who have not found new jobs to exhaust federal UI benefits sooner under the new plan -- adding to the swelling numbers of those whose benefits have run out even as they continue to look for work. Despite advocates' efforts to include robust funding for jobs and reemployment services that would extend to those workers as well as other long-term unemployed Americans, the bill passed today includes only modest funding for training evaluation and reemployment services geared to federal UI claimants.
The crisis of long-term unemployment remains the single most crucial problem facing America. It is one that must be addressed with a multiplicity of effective measures, and on a scale sufficient to meet the massive need. No one program, and no one approach, is capable of doing that all by itself, but the 'Platform to Employment' initiative featured on 60 Minutes shows that solutions are possible.
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