While $4.5 billion may seem like a lot of money, it's a drop in the bucket when compared to the number of people likely to need assistance and the level of assistance they'll need to get back to work in this economy.
The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Stats show 11.1 million Americans out of work at the end of 2008 (7.2% unemployment). Even if only one-third of them need help getting back to work, that's a total of 3.7 million people. Suddenly $4.5 billion becomes only $1,216 per person. While that might be enough to help someone update their resume and take a short course on job interviewing, it's not enough to retrain someone for a career in a new industry.
What's more, the people who only need a little help reworking their resumes are likely to land a job on their own without seeking assistance from their local One-Stop Career Center. The people who come through our doors will need more help, which costs more in staff time and other resources.
And this doesn't begin to touch the needs of underemployed workers.
There are some exciting elements in the bill, like the $750 million in new funds for worker training, with two-thirds of it set aside for green jobs.
Is $4.5 billion enough to help Americans get back to work? The more complex answer will emerge as we read and analyze the language in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in more detail to find out exactly what funds are authorized and how they will be spent.
What questions do you have about the bill?
Photo credit: Puget Sound Electrical Apprenticeship and Training Trust