News Release, Office of U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen(D-Md)
Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ron Wyden (R-Ore.) introduced the Long-Term Unemployment Elimination Act, which would create an innovative federal program that would generate real job opportunities for people who have been unemployed for six months or more. It is supported by a wide range of groups, including SEIU, National Skills Coalition, Heartland Alliance, Democracy Collaborative, CLASP, National Association of Workforce Boards, and Service Year Alliance.
As of last month, 1.3 million Americans were considered long-term unemployed – not including those who were looking for a job and then dropped out of the labor market altogether. Long-term unemployment can lock workers out of the job market, because employers are less likely to hire applicants who have extended gaps in their work history. This group of jobseekers cuts across all communities, ages, ethnicities, and occupations. And research shows significant consequences for people who have been out of work for an extended period – lower wages if they do find a job, higher rates of depression, and worse emotional wellbeing for their children. In sum, it reduces productivity and economic potential for the entire U.S. economy.
The legislation provides targeted mandatory funding to workforce development boards and community-based organizations to generate opportunities and get these Americans back to work. It also provides supports to help people overcome the barriers keeping them out of the workforce – such as transportation, childcare, job readiness training, substance abuse treatment, or assistance finding a permanent job – and training programs that build skills to sustain permanent employment.
“We have made important progress in rebuilding our economy over the last decade. But over a million Americans have been left behind – impacting their families, their communities, and our entire economy. We can and must change that,” said Senator Van Hollen. “Our bill would tackle the problem of long-term unemployment head on, putting people back to work and giving them the skills and experience they need to stay employed. Unlike Republicans, who want to help corporations and the wealthy above all else, Democrats are committed to helping everyday men and women succeed.”
“There’s a morally unacceptable disconnect in our economy with Americans who want to work unable to find jobs that pay a living wage. Programs that train workers and leave them to twist in the wind aren’t getting the job done. This proposal and our ELEVATE Act marries the needs of employers and workers, fast tracking new opportunities for employers to hire and train unemployed workers quickly for good-paying, permanent jobs,” said Senator Wyden.