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There Are a Record Number of Job Openings, Again. We Have a Way to Help Fill Them.

October 17, 2018

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary this week. As of the end of August, there are a record high 7.1 million job openings in America.

This is great news that follows last month’s jobs report, which showed the unemployment rate in September fell to 3.7 percent, its lowest level since December 1969. As House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said:

“We have gone from a country that asks ‘where are the jobs?’ to one that asks ‘where are the workers?’”

Given the record number of job openings and as our economy continues to expand due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and other pro-growth Republican policies, Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Adrian Smith (R-NE) introduced H.R. 5861, the JOBS for Success Act.

The JOBS for Success Act, which was approved by the Committee this summer, reauthorizes the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for five years and seeks to close the jobs gap – the difference between employers’ increasing demand for workers in a strong economy and the relatively low percent of working-age individuals in the workforce.

One specific way that the JOBS for Success Act does this is by making important changes to TANF in order to improve its alignment with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the nation’s primary workforce development legislation. Doing so will facilitate stronger partnerships in states and localities nationwide, helping families move beyond welfare and into work.

There are four steps that the JOBS for Success Act takes to achieve this alignment:

1. The bill eliminates the work participation rate requirement, instead holding state-level TANF agencies accountable for work outcomes similar to those used in WIOA.

Our bill gets rid of the focus on process, concentrating instead on outcomes. We gradually phase in a similar outcome-based performance accountability system so that TANF agencies have the same goals as workforce agencies: more Americans getting and keeping a job.

2. The bill provides more flexibility to do what is needed to achieve work outcomes.

State agencies need to remain focused on the work outcomes of getting and keeping a job, not filling out unnecessary paperwork. We decrease administrative burdens and eliminate time limit restrictions, making it easier to focus on what each individual needs to be successful in work.

The bill also takes the long-overdue step of recognizing career and technical education and apprenticeship as allowable work activities, helping create stronger connections to today’s in-demand jobs.

3. The bill allows state agencies to transfer up to 50 percent of their TANF grant to local workforce development boards. 

The JOBS for Success Act allows dollars to follow the person into the workforce development system, addressing WIOA resource needs. Additionally, the bill, as under WIOA, allows states to set aside up to 15 percent of funds for statewide workforce employment and training activities. We need to use all tools at our disposal to help more Americans enter and remain in the workforce for good.

4. The bill allows for better planning and execution through the integration of state plans across programs. 

Finally, the JOBS for Success Act gives states the option of submitting a combined plan to the federal government that meets requirements for these programs that are now serving the same workers, leveraging each other’s resources, and focused on the same work outcomes of getting and keeping a job.

Support for these important aspects of the bill continues to grow. Recently (pictured below), Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) met with the Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board to talk about our legislation. CLICK HERE or on the photo to learn more about Rep. Wenstrup’s visit.

Additionally, the California Workforce Association wrote to the Committee to express their support for the “Alignment of JOBS outcomes with key Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) employment focused metrics,” among other positive policies in the JOBS for Success Act.

The House Ways and Means Committee looks forward to continuing our work to get the JOBS for Success Act enacted into law.

CLICK HERE to learn more about our legislation.