Press Release: Ohio Counties Will Be Unable to Expand Successful Jobs Programs if U.S. Senate Fails to Extend TANF Emergency Fund
A new Ohio subsidized employment program, which has provided jobs for 1,500 parents in 44 Ohio counties and 8,000 youth in 69 counties, will never reach its full potential unless Congress this fall extends the federal program that funded it, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The employment program uses federal dollars provided through the TANF Emergency Fund, which President Obama and Congress created in last year's Recovery Act, to create subsidized jobs for low-income Ohio residents with children who otherwise would be unemployed. Many of the job placements are with private-sector businesses and some have led to permanent, unsubsidized jobs.
One of the 566 participating employers in the year-round program serving low-income unemployed parents with children is Cathy Elkins, the owner of Cottage Floral & Gifts, a small, Louisville flower shop. With support from the program, Elkins expanded her business by hiring and training a new floral designer.
Through her new job at the flower shop, employee Sally Gnes has gained valuable job skills and increased financial independence. "I have two kids, and this program has been wonderful for me," said Gnes. "I've played with flowers my entire life, but I didn't know I could do this [for a living]. This program is great for people who really want to work."
"Sally is an amazing employee, and with additional support, I would love to find another employee just like her," said Elkins. But unless Congress extends funding for the subsidized employment program, Cottage Floral & Gifts will have to suspend plans to hire additional workers through the program.
Effective Job-Creation Program Set to End September 30 Unless Congress Acts
The federal TANF Emergency Fund that pays for the Subsidized Employment Program is set to expire on September 30 unless Congress extends it.
"The Emergency Fund has been invaluable," said Douglas Lumpkin, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. "It has provided more than $188 million in cash assistance to Ohio families - many of whom are eager and waiting to be placed in subsidized employment opportunities, which often turn into permanent non-subsidized employment. This not only helps struggling families, but local economies, as well. Extending the Emergency Fund would have many long-term benefits."
In Ohio, each county makes key decisions about how to operate its program. The counties that chose to participate were each given a fixed amount of funding when the program started earlier this year. Counties that have not spent all of their allotments will be able to keep operating until all funds are expended. Counties that were able to get their programs up and running quickly have already spent all of their funds and are starting to close down their programs.
"The program has allowed employers to save jobs and expand hiring during highly uncertain economic times, benefitting both workers and employers" according Tom Thompson, Human Services Deputy Director, Stark County Job and Family Services. "Workers are able to support their families and develop new skills. Employers can hire the help they need to make sure their businesses grow and thrive."
Unemployment in Ohio remains above the national average at 10.3 percent and another bleak national monthly employment report is due out tomorrow from the U.S. Department of Labor.
"It makes no sense to shut down an effective jobs program and put more people out of work right now," said LaDonna Pavetti co-author of the report. "It's the opposite of what the country needs: jobs will evaporate, unemployed mothers and fathers will struggle to make ends meet, and it will add more strain to the already fragile economic recovery."
Congress Can Extend Program, Save Tens of Thousands of Jobs Nationwide
The House has voted twice to extend the Fund, which has placed an estimated 250,000 low-income parents and youth in subsidized private- or public-sector jobs nationwide. But, the Senate has yet to act. The costs of the House extensions were fully offset and would not add to the deficit.
The Emergency Fund was included in last year's Recovery Act with the purpose of providing states with extra resources to meet the increased need for assistance during a recession. The Fund gives states the ability to put money in the hands of people who will spend it, which helps lessen the damage that the recession would have otherwise done to the economy and especially to vulnerable populations.
Thirty-seven states operate subsidized employment programs using these funds. Yet many of the programs -- including most of the largest ones -- will have to close their doors on September 30 if Congress doesn't extend the fund; others plan to greatly scale back operations.
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Note to reporters: Please contact Shannon Spillane, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to schedule interviews with program participant Sally Gnes and/or her employer Cottage Floral and Gifts.
The full report, featuring state-by-state data, is available at: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3274.