Governor Beshear Encourages Employers to Expand Workforce

Press Release

By:  Steve Beshear Jerry Abramson John Yarmuth
Date: June 21, 2010
Location: Frankfort, KY

Gov. Steve Beshear, joined by Congressman John Yarmuth and Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, today encouraged Kentucky employers to take advantage of WorkNow Kentucky, a federally funded program that will put nearly 10,000 disadvantaged youth and adults with children to work this summer. Funded with nearly $46 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program dollars through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the program aims to jump-start job creation by subsidizing the wages and benefits of eligible participants who are hired through the program.

"WorkNow Kentucky is a great deal for Kentucky businesses, who in essence will get free labor for the summer," said Gov. Beshear. "The program also provides employers the opportunity to try out and train employees for future openings. Our hope is that this program will lead to permanent jobs."

WorkNow Kentucky is made available through a collaborative effort of Kentucky's workforce and human services agencies. The Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services are partnering to administer the program through Kentucky's network of One-Stop Career Centers.

Businesses that participate will have the opportunity to hire motivated employees to their workforce at little or no cost. Employers will receive 100 percent reimbursement of participating employees' wages and benefits at the same rate as an entry-level, full-time employee.

Eligible employees, including low-income family members residing in Kentucky, will have the opportunity to gain work experience and a paycheck. In addition, the program provides an immediate connection to the current labor market and a professional employment reference for future job opportunities.

"Gaining work experience early is crucial to getting started down the path to a successful career -- but employment opportunities, particularly for younger workers, are still limited as our economy continues to recover," said Congressman Yarmuth. "WorkNow gives young people in Louisville the chance to get a job right away so they can contribute to our economy and learn the value of hard work, which will translate into better jobs and better opportunities in the future."

To date, more than 1,300 employers have applied to participate as worksites. An employer application may include multiple jobs and each job may have one or more openings. Participating employers include city governments, state parks, school districts, law firms, private retail businesses, local community centers, banks, doctor's offices, even a funeral home. Salaries of jobs already underway are ranging anywhere from minimum wage clerical jobs to jobs in construction labor that pay up to $28 an hour.

The $46 million infusion will help Kentucky's economic recovery by boosting productivity of businesses without increasing overhead costs. It also will aid the state's economy when those dollars earned by participants are spent locally for goods and services.

"WorkNow Kentucky creates the perfect partnership between young adults looking for job experience this summer and Kentucky businesses who want to grow their workforce and still prosper," said Mayor Jerry Abramson. "This program will help thousands earn a paycheck as well as create a valuable pool of ready-to-work employees."

The event was held at Buechel Metropolitan High School in Louisville, where the Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) system has put 30 youth to work this summer performing maintenance on computers in schools throughout the district. The team will also be wiring for new computer labs in several schools throughout the county.

The WorkNow Kentucky subsidy is scheduled to end Sept. 18, 2010. Nearly 4,000 potential employee applications have been submitted since the program began on June 1, 2010. Applications and information for both employers and employees interested in the summer work program are available at One-Stop Career Centers across the state or online at http://worknow.ky.gov.