As the month of May came to an end, Main Street was buzzing with predictions about the next month's unemployment numbers. Finally that day came, and on June 2 I checked out the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Web site and it was no surprise that unemployment had increased to 9.5%.
However, I was shocked when I viewed the historical chart from 1999 to present. The peak that started from 2008 provides little hope of improvement. Therefore, I decided to zero in on the issue of unemployment in America.
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was last reauthorized in 1998 by President Clinton. The act provides and sponsors job training and other programs including summer youth for the unemployed. The WIA still stands, but it expired in 2003. According to Certification Magazine, re-authorization of the WIA will allow the government to modernize the act.
Steps were taken to push for a decision of Congress to reauthorize the WIA. In February, John Morales, the president of the National Workforce Association (NWA) testified before the House Education and Labor Committee in an effort to strengthen the act. His main argument was that a lot of older workers lack skills that will further advance them in their chosen career, or simply help boost their qualifications.
In June, Jobs for the Future, an advocacy group, created an excellent policy document to support re-authorization of the WIA. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) also voiced his support for this proposed bill.
I completely agree with the article in Certification Magazine. It is true that the WIA is outdated and is in desperate need of re-authorization. This will help to prioritize spending within the program and properly budget money to specific programs that are proven to help participants.
Since 2003, the government has simply poured money into the WIA with no specific outlook. Pages 58-59 of the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" merely mentions the $3.25 billion that have been allocated to adult training, youth employment, preparation for a "green" workforce, and elderly instruction.
That's it, nothing specific to properly targeting spending according to current labor demands. It's safe to assume that this job is left up to the states. I state this because Michigan has rolled up its factory worker sleeves and is drafting its own unemployment assistance program titled "No Worker Left Behind." The Web site speaks for itself and it seems like a great resource for residents.
Recently, the New York Times wrote about job retraining and its effect on the unemployed. It states that in 2007, about 70% of the 3.5 million people who rely on the training programs are satisfied. This shows that WIA deserves more attention and needs to be reauthorized. In the 1990s, the problems of unemployment were less severe, and that BLS historical chart proves that matters are getting worse.
Time is running out, write your Representative.
More job training needed for unemployed