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The Obama administration today announced that it has struck some sort of (unspecified) “deal with lawmakers” this week that will facilitate a pilot jobs/training program in 10 states, specifically aimed at those who’ve been unemployed for six months or longer. It includes a government sponsored, try-before-you-buy employee training period for businesses. Per the Wall Street Journal blog

…It’s modeled after an unemployment program in Georgia. Under that program, workers continue to collect unemployment benefits, plus a small stipend to cover transportation and other expenses–at no cost to the employer. After eight weeks of training, the company may hire the person, or not. It can amount to a free tryout…

Potentially, this is a very good step in the right direction! (Unfortunately, as you’ll learn further down below, like much of what’s coming out of D.C. these days, it does have loopholes in it that would enable it to be gamed by unscrupulous businesses.)  However, looking at it with a glass half-full, it reminds me of THIS small, highly successful program for which funding was not extended, back at the end of the third quarter of 2010. I covered that story at the time, HERE, HERE and in a couple of other posts.

Here’s more from the WSJ on today’s announcement…

Obama Administration to Kick-Off New Unemployment Program
By Jared A. Favole and Carol E. Lee
Wall Street Journal Blog
April 19, 2012, 11:46 AM

The Obama administration on Thursday will kick-off a program that allows people to experiment with a new job while still receiving unemployment benefits as part of an effort to help some 5.3 million Americans who have been out of work for six months or longer.

Ten states will be able to apply to participate in the program, and the Labor Department will announce the application process Thursday, according to a White House official.

Lawmakers and some economists have expressed fears that the current benefits system for the unemployed doesn’t do enough to encourage them to find job training, and may prolong unemployment. President Barack Obama and lawmakers have said they want to revamp the unemployment system…

There is some mention in this WSJ blog column of voiced concern from economists due to the fact that it could provide a basic loophole which “…may allow employers to cycle through workers without actually hiring any.”

We’re also informed that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is responsible for determining which 10 states will participate in this program.

Along with many others in this community, I frequently cover the record-breaking income inequality fiasco that is now pervasive throughout U.S. society. The resultant and inconvenient truth is that a byproduct of this reality is that the lion’s share of new jobs that are being created right now are low-paying and frequently dead-end positions. However, ANY job-creation effort that makes it through to Main Street right now is inherently better than nothing at all. (Yes, I know, an unacceptably low bar.)

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I really miss Bob Herbert’s NY Times’ columns: “A Jobs Program That Works,” 7/3/10.

12:03 PM PT: Kossack GoGoGoEverton just informed me that they had posted something about this new program, a short while ago. HERE'S THE LINK to it. Definitely worth a read. Lot's of additional information about this new program is in it.

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