Representatives Davis and Moore Introduce Legislation to Put America Back to Work
On March 17, 2021, Representatives Danny K. Davis (D-IL) and Gwen Moore (D-WI) along with Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Jobs for Economic Recovery Act to create job opportunities for workers and spur economic recovery.
More than 9 million people remain officially unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Recession which exacerbated social and economic inequities and left many communities decimated. Millions more have dropped out of the workforce and are looking for opportunities to return. A recent report by the Chicago Fed showed the steepest unemployment rates among women with children, Black mothers, single mothers, and non-college educated mothers. As this public health and economic crisis continues, it’s clear that, even when it is safe to go back to work, millions of workers will not return to the jobs they had before. Getting back to work will be especially challenging for workers who face significant barriers to labor market entry, such as former foster youth, individuals who were formerly incarcerated, parents lacking quality affordable childcare, and the long-term unemployed.
The Jobs for Economic Recovery Act would create a new jobs program to pay eligible individuals six months of wages and benefits for public, private sector, or nonprofit jobs. Workers could receive important services to help remain connected to the workforce, like child care and transportation. The bill would provide employers with needed financial support (e.g., wage subsidies, payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, supervision) and new pathways into the work-force development system, allowing them to train and hire new workers and job re-entrants. It also would give states flexibility to address community-specific workforce gaps and employer needs. Importantly, the bill would target help to workers with the greatest barriers to employment – such as the long-term unemployed, the homeless, people with criminal records, former foster youth.
In the short-term, the Jobs for Economic Recovery Act will provide an immediate source of funding for states, tribes and local governments to create or expand employment programs to get people back to work. Until 2023, the federal government would cover 100 percent of the costs of these programs, allowing states to stand up programs quickly to get people back to work. By ensuring funding for employment programs remains available into the future, the bill will prevent these programs from disappearing like they largely did after the Great Recession and allow them to continue to provide necessary employment support as the job market improves.
“I see the devastation caused by this pandemic in Chicago and across the nation,” said Rep. Davis. “As workers struggle to find jobs and support their families, lawmakers need to enact policies that support workers and address the barriers they face, taking care not to penalize communities weighed down by poverty and racism. As employers seek to remain afloat, they need financial assistance to bring workers on board and train them. Subsidized employment helps remove barriers to employment for workers and helps businesses grow their workforce. There is an urgent need for this legislation that addresses inequality, spurs economic growth, and promotes a more equitable recovery.”
Rep. Moore said: “Through no fault of their own, millions have found themselves unemployed as a result of the pandemic. I know many of my constituents are still struggling with the loss of a job and wonder how they will keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. We must invest in a strong economic recovery by expanding access to jobs, especially in communities that were hurting before the pandemic. In the Great Recession, subsidized jobs were a proven tool to help those most affected by the hurting economy get back on their feet. We need to make sure recovery helps all communities, including those with the most barriers to getting back into the workforce. The Jobs for Economy Recovery Act provides crucial resources for workforce programs that connect people to gainful employment who need it, helping us build an economy that works for everyone.”
The Jobs for Economic Recovery Act includes ideas from Congressman Davis’s and Senator Wyden’s ELEVATE Act, Senator Baldwin’s Stronger Way Act, and Senator Van Hollen’s Long-Term Unemployment Elimination Act to create a new, robust employment program to meet the needs of both workers and employers and help the economy recover from the damage done by the pandemic.