Program to get people working | Washington state news

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has directed the state Employment Security Department to deploy $4 million in federal funds in new efforts to put the long-term unemployed back to work.

“To continue our economic recovery and build a Washington that works for all of us, we need to do more to help the long-term unemployed overcome the stigma and institutional challenges they face in their efforts to return to work,” Inslee said. “Many of these workers contributed to the strength of our economy before the recession, but they’ve been shut out of the recovery and we need to turn that around.”

The governor has directed Employment Security to seek proposals from local workforce development councils for new strategies to return the long-term unemployed to work as fast as possible.

The funding comes from the federal Rapid Response Program, which normally provides special services to help workers who loss their jobs due to mass layoffs at single companies. The number of mass layoffs has dropped as the economy has improved, but the number of long-term unemployed workers continues to grow.

By the end of February, more than 195,000 people in Washington had run out of all unemployment benefits since July 2008, and at least 118,000 of them were still unemployed.

According to Employment Security data, about 60 percent of those who remain unemployed had consistent employment in the year prior to their layoffs. Many previously worked in highly skilled jobs and have college degrees.

Inslee said this new approach directs the funding where it is needed most. Employment Security will ask local workforce development councils to submit proposals by April 17 and the contract awards will be announced by April 24.

There are 12 business-led workforce development councils in the state.

The councils operate 28 full-service WorkSource employment centers across Washington, as well as dozens of limited-service sites in smaller communities and on college campuses. Altogether, WorkSource provided employment services to more than 239,000 job seekers and thousands of employers last year.

Research consistently shows that people who use WorkSource job-search services tend to find work faster and earn more money than those who don’t use WorkSource.

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