This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation with the support of Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) to help out of work Americans prepare for new careers and get back in the workforce. While the unemployment rate ticked-down last month, the labor force participation rate again dropped to 63.5%, it's lowest since 1981.
"There are more than twelve million Americans who are unemployed and looking for work; and many more have given-up on their job searches altogether," said Congressman Posey. "Washington needs to pursue policies that put more people back to work and enable American businesses to compete, expand and create jobs."
Towards this end, the House approved two bills this week that aim to encourage work and enhance workforce training.
With a bipartisan vote, the House passed H.R. 890, the Preserving the Welfare Work Requirement and TANF Extension Act of 2013, which restores the work requirements enacted through the 1996 welfare reform that was passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. This legislation is in response to the current Administration's attempts to circumvent the law and wave the welfare work requirements. The bill also extends the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF cash welfare program until the end of the year.
Posey also supported the SKILLS Act (Supporting Knowledge and Lifelong Skills Act, H.R. 803), which passed the House this week and would revitalize federal job training programs, eliminate duplicative programs, bring accountability by redirecting tax dollars to programs that show tangible results, and require workforce development boards to include more employers and business owners. The goal is to ensure that workers can get the training to meet jobs that are in current demand. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are millions of job openings that are going unfilled due to lack of qualified workers.
"We can't let government bureaucracy prevent us from keeping-up with the demands of a changing economy and putting people back to work," said Posey.
H.R. 803 has the backing of state Governors, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Associated Builders and Contractors, the Associated General Contractors of America, the National Restaurant Association and the National Retail Federation. These and hundreds of thousands of employers recognize the value in updating job-training and jobs-skills programs so that they can find employees with the skills they need to run their businesses. "Job-training programs should end with a job and that is what the Skills Act is about," concluded Posey.