Congresswoman Barbara Lee held a roundtable discussion with career counselors from the Oakland Private Industry Council, Inc., (PIC), representatives from the Employment Development Department (EDD) and individuals whose unemployment benefits are due to expire.
Oakland PIC Chief Executive Officer Gay Plair Cobb told Congresswoman Lee that since last July 1, Oakland's career centers had more than 89,000 visits from area residents looking for work. Lee met with representatives of the PIC and EDD to discuss the need for Congress to address the nation's employment crisis by making vital investments in direct job-creation and job-training initiatives.
Lee addressed the roundtable participants, whose unemployment benefits were expiring, stating that she will continue to fight to extend their support. Lee said, "In this recovering economy, we should not be cutting benefits. Recipients need more weeks of assistance, not less."
Lee also asked PIC and EDD staffers about how a job seeker gets on the appropriate list and track to skills training. She asked for information about the list of training providers. Lee said she would take the information and experiences she had gathered from her meeting to the deliberations of the U.S. Congress's Appropriations Committee.
During Lee's visit which occurred on the first day EDD counselors are required to meet with the first wave of long-term unemployed clients who are required to have their claims reassessed to remain eligible for assistance, the congresswoman learned from EDD that an estimated 24,000 people throughout Alameda County, more than14, 000 in the city of Oakland, will be required to have their unemployment claims reassessed between now and December.
Lee's bill H.R 589, calls for an emergency unemployment extension for those who have exhausted their benefits.
In responding to a question from the press about reports of the Department of Labor's reclaiming the city's unspent job training funds, Lee said she would have her staff to seek information from the City regarding the return of the funds.
"We need help because Oakland has a higher unemployment rate than most other bay area cities," said Cobb.