Since unemployment insurance and COBRA extensions did not pass before the deadline of February 28, 2010, leaving as many as 1.2 million families without access to needed programs, the Senate is now working on an “extenders” bill (named for the extensions of programs that have expired or are about to) that would reauthorize both programs, among other items. If you support this bill, the National Skills Coalition is offering a way to contact your member of Congress. You can take action now to ensure that key support strategies are included in the extender bill.
National Skills Coalition is highlighting four key points within the “extenders” bill:
- Extending UI/COBRA benefits through 2010 – Without quick action, 1.2 million people will lose their UI benefits in March. Long-term reauthorization (until the end of 2010) as opposed to shorter extensions will prevent future disruptions. Additionally, the Economic Policy Institute estimates that extending though the end of the year will create 800,000 new jobs.
- Extending the TANF Emergency Fund for one year, and increasing the federal reimbursement rate for subsidized job programs –Under the TANF Emergency Fund, states can receive an 80 percent federal reimbursement for certain state TANF expenditures such as subsidized employment programs. An estimated 120,000 jobs will be created under the program as of September 2010, the current end date of the program. Extending the program supports needed job programs for an additional year while easing the financial burden on struggling states.
- Investing in On-the-Job Training (OJT) programs – In OJT programs, workers earn paychecks at the same time they are learning skills that give them the opportunity to continue working. OJT programs also give employers the ability to offset some of the front-end costs of hiring and training. A recent PA employer survey found nearly 80 percent of employers would be more likely to hire, and hire more quickly, with access to an OJT program that included meaningful worker protections.
- Investing in Summer Youth programs – Through ARRA Summer Youth programs, more than 300,000 young workers took part in subsidized work experience and job training programs in 2009. If this program is to continue, state and local workforce officials, organizations, and employers need to begin planning and recruiting as soon as possible—meaning Congress must move quickly to appropriate the necessary funds.
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