Workforce Faces Cuts in Reconciliation Bill
On Friday, September 10, the House Education and Labor Committee advanced its $761 billion section of Democrat’s reconciliation bill, which includes several pro-labor provisions not expected to survive the reconciliation process. The proposal includes nearly $80 billion for workforce training programs, including expansion of registered apprenticeships and training for direct care workers. It would also fund new workforce activities to fight climate change – carried out through both Department of Labor job training programs and AmeriCorps – to prepare workers for good-paying jobs in emerging fields to help address the climate crisis.
The plan also includes $111 billion to lower the cost of higher education by providing two years of tuition-free community college; increases the value of Pell Grants; invests in grant programs to help train new teachers and address the growing teacher shortage; and makes quality degrees more affordable through targeted investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and other minority-serving institutions.
The proposal now heads to the Budget Committee, and will be packaged together with the various components of the $3.5 trillion package before it heads to the House floor.
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On Tuesday, September 7, the White House proposed a stopgap measure to fund the government past the September 30 shutdown deadline. The stopgap measure would include $14 billion for natural disasters and $6.4 billion for the relocation of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees, and another $10 billion for Hurricane Ida relief is also expected. Whether to raise or suspend the debt ceiling is a separate issue that lawmakers are dealing with at the same time. If lawmakers are not able to raise or suspend the ceiling, the U.S. government would default for the first time ever.
Good Jobs Challenge
The U.S. Department of Commerce recently announced a new $500 million grant program, the Good Jobs Challenge, which is specifically designed to get Americans the skills they need to secure quality jobs by investing in regional workforce systems, sectoral partnerships and skills training programs. The Challenge will provide 25 to 50 grants to winning collaborative projects that propose new training programs for good jobs or novel ways to expand existing ones. The initiative aims to not only create new programs but also new, more effective, partnerships across sectors. It is also focused on engaging traditionally underserved populations, including women and people of color, as well as geographic areas that have been systematically or systemically denied full participation in the country’s economic prosperity. It further emphasizes wraparound supports, such as counseling and coaching, that help workers access and complete training.
Collaborative groups of workforce agencies, education providers, and employers can apply for up to $10 million for each project, or up to $20 million if the project serves more than one industry sector. Applicants must focus on expanding access to good jobs, which the agency defines as those that have pay that exceeds the local prevailing wage for a given industry; includes at least basic benefits, such as paid leave, health insurance, and retirement plans, or are unionized; and help the employee develop the skills and experiences necessary to advance along a career path.
Click here to learn more about the Good Jobs Challenge.
Initial Jobless Claims
In the week ending September 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 310,000, a decrease of 35,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 5,000 from 340,000 to 345,000. The 4-week moving average was 339,500, a decrease of 16,750 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,250 from 355,000 to 356,250. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.0 percent for the week ending August 28, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.
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