in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
Subsidize transitional employment wages
From: Robert P., Roxbury, CT
We have seen people both unemployed, and getting unemployment checks for 99 weeks. Two years of unemployment does no one any good. I was out of work for seven months, and it got harder and harder to respond to the "What have you been doing?" question in interviews.
How about offering directly subsidized wages to employers for hiring workers? The idea is to reduce the risk to hire for the employer, and to allow the employee to prove his or her value in a new job. We taxpayers would subsidize up to 30 percent of pay for the first 13 weeks, 20 percent for 13 more weeks, and 10 percent for up to 26 additional weeks.
There would need to be safeguards, of course: limits on the number of employees covered per employer to prevent employers from gaming the system, some way to protect the employee from continuous turnover, etc. The point is, instead of being cursed with "unemployment," the worker has the opportunity to gain new skills while bringing home a paycheck.
Sadly, I don't know how to finance such a program. I'd like to think funds could be shifted from current unemployment programs to transitional employment programs. And I think it'd a good idea to have workers pay back at least some of the transitional employment wages through a small wage garnishment after being employed for a year.
The benefits are big enough for all concerned that I think it's worth a shot.