Rebuilding the Economy

Floor Speech

By:  Judy Chu
Date: May 19, 2010
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. CHU. I rise today to urge the quick passage of H.R. 4213, the American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes and Preventing Outsourcing Act. This bill is such a comprehensive approach to improving our economy by providing important tax breaks and to spur innovation and create jobs. But one reason I'm extremely enthusiastic about it is that it extends and expands an extremely successful employment program that is called Jobs NOW, which has created over 156,000 jobs, and in my district alone, 400 jobs.

In Palmdale, California, Jobs NOW helped Jody, a single mother of two, find a job at a local coffeehouse working as a barista. The regular paycheck puts food on the table and is helping her get through a rough patch. Her boss is extremely impressed with her work and plans to permanently hire her and three other subsidized employees that they brought on. It's this kind of success story that makes Jobs NOW such a good model for job creation. Without it, the coffeehouse would not have been able to grow its business or take on new employees. Jody would not have had a chance to learn these new skills and support her family.

Now I came across this innovative program because it's in my district, Los Angeles County. One of the Los Angeles County supervisors, Don Knabe, created a program which provided over 11,000 jobs, all in 1 year, using stimulus funds to create these subsidized jobs. How does it work? Eligible participants are placed into subsidized jobs in all sectors of the economy, from small business to nonprofits to the government sector, and they're matched with jobs that complement their employment goals. The employer must provide supervision equal to 20 percent of the cost of this job and they must ensure that the job will not displace an existing employee or someone who is to be promoted.

What this means is that the county then is paying for 80 percent or more of the payroll costs through Recovery Act funds. Some examples of these jobs are park rangers, receptionists, teachers' assistants, dental assistant trainees, customer service clerks, and child care workers. Workers get paid $10 per hour for up to 40 hours per week.

Jobs NOW allow small businesses to succeed and the employee to succeed. I've spoken to countless people in my district about this program and I keep on hearing about how this program is truly a win-win for businesses and workers. This program works because they do both benefit. Workers benefit beyond the paycheck by getting hands-on experience in a setting where they can earn wages and make sure that they put food on the table. They are also developing their skills. Small businesses benefit by getting the help they need to grow or expand while temporarily reducing payroll costs. Companies may ultimately desire to hire these subsidized workers permanently as the economy improves. The jobs generated by the program can help businesses expand in these difficult times by reducing their economic risk and the need for expensive loans.

In April of this year, over 7,000 people were enrolled in the program in Los Angeles County, and 1,100 employers were improving their productivity and putting someone to work with this extra help. These are companies like Punch Television Network in Carson,

California. Punch TV is a fledgling channel that is trying to build a new nationwide television network, and they needed quality employees to truly expand. They hired six subsidized employees using Jobs NOW and they recently moved into a new large production center to handle all their new work. They even want to hire these new, highly motivated workers permanently. So now, not only do these employees have hands-on experience, they are going to have a permanent job.

But this great program isn't just putting people to work in my area. It's employing people all across the Nation in 29 States across the Nation. They are using Jobs NOW to keep their residents working, paying taxes, and purchasing groceries that's fueling local economies. In Tennessee, the State focused on rural Perry County, which was hard hit by a plant closure. The unemployment rate had risen to 27.3 percent. Tennessee brought local workforce development and human service agencies and the business community together and developed a subsidized employment program for over 500 individuals. The effort cut local unemployment down to 18.6 percent. Because of successes like this, more States want to join. And if we pass H.R. 4213, Jobs NOW can expand and help thousands more people.

But we can't delay. Already, States are stopping their subsidized jobs programs because the funding will expire at the end of September. Companies aren't as interested in taking on new employees and training them, just to lose them again in 4 months. In my district, Los Angeles County will stop placing participants in new jobs in June, and soon many more counties and States will do the same. Yet, the full amount of funding has yet to be claimed by the States. The Recovery Act authorized $5 billion for Jobs NOW's employment program, but less than $1.5 billion has been accessed by the States, and the program really actually can still expand across the country. That's why H.R. 4213 is so crucial. It not only extends Jobs NOW for another year, it lets the unspent funds for this year pay for next year's salaries for workers hired in 2010.

If we don't act now, 60,000 Americans across the Nation will lose their jobs when this program ends and endless more will not have the opportunity to get the jobs that they need. This bill will keep Americans employed and will create thousands of necessary jobs.

I yield back.