A plan to support the creation of up to one million jobs was announced today by a group of House Democrats led by Education and Labor Committee chairman Rep. George Miller (D-CA). The Local Jobs for America Act would support public and private jobs the next two years in local communities across the country. It is the largest direct job-creation plan offered in Congress so far this year.
With the burden of high unemployment, persistent joblessness and severe budget shortfalls that threaten to cause even more layoffs, the $100 billion jobs plan is the most significant legislation yet offered to tackle the massive jobs crisis directly.
The plan would provide federal funding to support full-time, full-year jobs with benefits, good wages or modest salaries for those out of work as well as protect local jobs that would otherwise be eliminated by budget-related layoffs. It is designed for fast-acting job creation at the local level with minimal administrative overhead.
$75 billion is included to support up to 750,000 jobs directly in local public service positions, through county or municipal governments and community not-for-profits, and another 50,000 on-the-job training positions to help private businesses expand. It also includes $23 billion to support a quarter of a million jobs in education, more than $1.18 billion for local law enforcement jobs, and $500 million to hire or retain fire fighters.
Joining Chairman Miller on a conference call announcing the bill were Representatives Phil Hare (D-IL) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), as well as Elizabeth B. Kautz, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, who is the Republican Mayor of Burnsville, MN, and Ronald O. Loveridge, President of the National League of Cities, who is the Democratic Mayor of Riverside, CA.
The newly created jobs would be geared to expanding existing services or restoring positions cut in recent years. While jobs would be open to all qualified applicants, recruitment provisions in the bill would especially target jobs for those previously laid off, those currently receiving unemployment and those long-term unemployed who have exhausted their benefits.
Funds would be distributed by the U.S. Department of Labor, with 30% going to the states for distribution to smaller communities and 70% going directly to localities with at least 50,000 population. DOL would allocate funds under a formula based on weightings of population (25%), poverty (25%) and unemployment (50%), thus ensuring that more low-income communities and those facing higher unemployment are helped directly.
Because state and local governments that faced severe fiscal strains in 2009 expect even worse shortfalls in 2010 and 2011, up to 50% of the funds can be used to retain workers in jobs that would otherwise be eliminated due to budget cuts. The bill would not only help protect these jobs, but it would allow local governments to maintain and expand some services. House committee aides estimate that cities will need an additional 320,000 jobs just to get back to summer 2008 employment levels.
With minimal administrative costs, at least 93% of the money would go directly to the wages and benefits of those being employed.
It is estimated that the broader economic benefits of these newly created jobs will have a multiplier effect, indirectly creating another 100,000 private jobs — welcome news in the context of thus-far sluggish private sector job growth.
The bill is expected to attract strong backing from the growing national jobs coalition of labor and community groups, as well as bipartisan support at state, county and municipal levels. In a statement of support (pdf) the U.S. Conference of Mayors said:
The financial collapse is forcing cities and municipalities to cut jobs that are critically important to local communities – teachers, police, firefighters, childcare workers, and others. The bill, which was developed with mayors, county officials and others, will put a million people to work by restoring these services in local communities, in both public and private sector jobs.
America needs 11 million new jobs to begin to close the gap caused by the Great Recession. Having provided massive aid to bring recovery to Wall Street, it’s about time serious job-creation efforts got underway on Main Street. One million jobs would be a very good start.