Getting Back to Work
October 13, 2003
Federal employment training programs are considered ineffective by many observers. For example, economist Lawrence Katz says that "we've developed a hodge-podge of fairly ineffective programs, like the ones for which you qualify only if you get displaced through trade, defined in a certain way that means union workers are more likely to benefit."
Since 1962, Congress repeatedly has expanded and reorganized worker-aid programs. It has added programs aimed specifically at welfare recipients, Native Americans, disabled veterans and workers hurt by imports, ignoring economists who counsel against such targeting.
- The federal government has 44 separate training programs administered by nine federal agencies that spend about $12 billion on employment and training each year.
- Unemployment benefits cost about $52.7 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
- Earlier this year, President Bush proposed giving workers deemed most likely to remain unemployed as much as $3,000 to spend on counseling or training -- or to keep if they found a job quickly.
- There is bipartisan support for merging unemployment-benefit offices with those that provide job-hunting advice or training; the idea is to create one-stop career centers.
One significant, and largely unforeseen, development over the past decade, say observers, is the growing role of temporary-help firms as a way for the unemployed to find work and for employers to try out prospective hires.
Source: David Wessel, "Clues to the Cure For Unemployment Begin to Emerge: One-Stop Career Centers And Cash Incentives Yield Successful Job Searches," Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2003.
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