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Thousands of Jobs to Disappear by the End of September



September 7, 2010

CHICAGO - More than 25,000 of the neediest residents of Illinois are scheduled to lose their newly found subsidized jobs by the end of the month. That's because the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) emergency funding, which subsidized 250,000 jobs nationwide, is set to expire on Sept. 30.

In Illinois the funding was used for the "Put Illinois to Work Program," which enables low-income parents and young people to get the skills they need to transition to permanent work once the economy improves. Sheena Howard, a single mother who was a ward of the state as a child, had been trying to go to school when the "Put Illinois to Work program" placed her in a job with a CPA firm, just a couple of months ago. Now she has been told that if the funding is not extended, she has less than a month to find another job. Howard says she has learned new skills, but no one seems interested in her new resume.

"I've been looking, looking, looking, calling, but nothing yet."

The director of the "Put Illinois to Work Program," Jill Geltmaker, says those who think of it as an entitlement program are misinformed.

"It's actually building on what the idea of welfare reform is: Give people skills, give them something that they can work from, and in fact they will work."

Geltmaker says it is beginning to have an impact on the economy.

"People are working 30, 40 hours a week, and those wages are taxed. In addition, we're putting anywhere from $9 million to $12 million a week back into local economies."

The problem, Geltmaker contends, is that the program needs more time to take hold.

"The hope was that there would be a faster recovery of the economy. What we're really seeing, and what most economists are saying, is this is a pretty slow recovery process - it's not an overnight fix."

Because the economic recovery is taking longer than expected, the U.S. Senate is considering an extension of the emergency funding. Opponents say it's just a back-door way to undo welfare reform. Supporters say the jobs that these funds create are getting people off welfare, sending tax money back to the states, and helping small businesses get the help they need to keep their doors open.

More information is available at www.cbpp.org.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL
 

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