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Two Cities Promote Publicly-Funded Jobs.

Despite record low "official" national unemployment (about 4 percent), high rates of joblessness persist in America's inner dries. Many people leaving welfare for work, despite intensive job searches, cannot find employment on their own. While jobs may be available, people who have been unemployed for a long period of time may lack the work experience and job skills they need to find and keep a job in a private sector firm.

A growing number of dries are exploring publicly funded jobs programs as a workforce development strategy to help address the needs of jobseekers that cannot find work on their own. These programs use public dollars to support wage-paying jobs in public and nonprofit agencies. The jobs are purposely short-term and "transitional" (time limited) and structured so that participants work on projects that address community needs. The programs are intended to help jobseekers, unable to find work on their own, move from welfare to entry-level, unsubsidized jobs in public or private organizations. Funding sources include Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and welfare-to-work grants. When the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) takes effect on July 1, 2000, local communities will also be able to tap those dollars for publicly funded jobs.

St. Paul, Minn. and San Francisco are among the cities that operate publicly funded jobs programs. Unlike "workfare," which requires welfare recipients to perform community service in exchange for receiving their TANF or other public assistance benefits, participants in publicly funded jobs programs earn a paycheck, including tax deductions, that may qualify them for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.

In July 1999, St. Paul started a publicly funded jobs program with a federal welfare-to-work grant the city received. The program, Advancement Plus, is now operating near capacity with 14 individuals working 35 hours per week at $6.00 per hour. Participants work in assembly, small machine operating, and packaging in a local company, St. Paul Rehabilitation Center. Job coaching is provided to help participants find success in their jobs and to advance, if they choose, within the field.

St. Paul's Advancement Plus provides more than just job skills related to packaging and assembly Two hours per week of on-the-job training (OJT) helps participants acquire or brush up on skills that are important to employers: punctuality and attendance, dress and appearance, motivation, self esteem, communication, teamwork, money management, and stress management. The Minnesota Family Investment Program provides assistance with transportation and childcare costs.

In February 1999 the City of San Francisco launched Community Jobs Initiative (CJI). Participants receive paychecks for community service performed at nonprofit organizations for a maximum of nine months. Over the next two years, CJI hopes to serve over 700 jobseekers. Participants are paid $6.26 per hour and most receive the advanced Earned Income Tax Credit at approximately $115 per month. The City is combining dollars from San Francisco's General Fund and the Department of Labor.

Tiana Wertheim, Program Manager of CJI, explains the benefits of the city program. "We believe that our wage-based model ... offers clients what they need to become self-sufficient, she says. "We offer intensive and long-term case management, a simulated work environment, and the opportunity to earn real wages and acquire marketable skills."

The CJI program helps participants obtain unsubsidized and permanent jobs. CJI counselors work with each participant on an individual basis with an emphasis on matching the job with the participant's career goals. Recent CJI participants have been hired in clerical, maintenance, health, and retail positions with such San Francisco area organizations as the Leukemia Society, Vietnamese Cultural Center, and Central City Hospitality House.

Other cities and states that operate publicly funded jobs programs include Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Miami, the states of Washington and Vermont.

Details: For more information, contact Jan Mueller, Coordinator of Minnesota Family Investment Program, St. Paul Rehabilitation Center, (651) 265-2321 and Tiana Wertheim, Program Manager of CJI, City of San Francisco Department of Human Services, (415) 557-5779. To obtain a copy of NLC's report, "Publicly Funded Jobs: A Workforce Development Strategy for Cities," contact Susan Rosenblum, Project Manager, at (202) 626-3030, or email: A useful handbook for cities interested in starting publicly funded jobs programs is Creating Jobs: Public and Private Sector Strategies for the Hard to Employ. To obtain a copy ($25), contact The Corporation for Enterprise Development, (202) 408-9788 or email:
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Author:Masiarchin, Paul
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 17, 2000
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