Posts Tagged: Department of Labor

Wisconsin taps into fed unemployment money

The Wisconsin Republican state legislature will lend a helping hand to about 4,000 residents who have been unemployed for at least a year and seen all their federal and state benefits exhausted. Erin Toner of Milwaukee Public Radio reports that the fiscally conservative legislature is OK with helping the unemployed in large part because the money will come from the federal government. The money comes from the grand compromise Barack Obama made with the GOP last December: let the Bush tax cuts continue in exchange for extended unemployment benefits.

Eventually, Wisconsin, like many other states, must repay past money it has borrowed from the federal government for unemployment benefits. The state now owes the U.S. Dept. of Labor $1.3 billion.

A look at the Dept. of Labor’s Job Corps program

Georgia Pabst of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a positive look at Job Corps, a long-time program run by the U.S. Dept. of Labor to provide educational and vocational training for disadvantaged people between ages 16-24. Pabst interviews several participants positively impacted by Job Corps, but the program’s overall effect is limited to only 60,000 participants nationally. In Wisconsin, at least, there are far more disadvantaged teens and young adults applying for the program than there are positions available.

Dept. of Labor suggests smartphones to deal with wage theft

Temp workers at a Kraft warehouse in Joliet, Illinois have filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago claiming that Atlanta-based ProLogistix staffing agency never paid them for work at the Kraft plant. Kate MacArthur of Crain’s Chicago Business reports that Kraft itself is not named in the lawsuit, just ProLogistix. The lawsuit highlights another problem in enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act, which guarantees employees will be compensated for their work. (more…)

Unemployment Camp: Michigan congressman says jobless are taxing to business

Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder caused a stir in March by signing a bill that decreased the number of weeks the state pays unemployment benefits from 26 to 20. Michigan GOP Rep. Dave Camp has brought the plan to Washington. William Selway of Bloomberg reports that a bill by Camp to cut federally paid for jobless benefits and use the money to business taxes passed the House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday. Camp claims that taxes on employers are “making it harder for millions of unemployed workers to get back to work.”

The unemployed might not agree with Camp, and the Obama administration and U.S. Senate probably won’t either — meaning it is unlikely the bill will become law. But other states with conservative governors and state legislatures might. Missouri recently joined Michigan in curbing the duration of unemployment benefits.

Chicago’s teen idles

Alejandra Cancino of the Chicago Tribune reports on the continued lack of jobs for Chicago teens and that many teens will remain unemployed through the summer. Illinois teens have a 27.5 percent unemployment rate, a number that the federal government is not doing much to change. “This summer, Illinois is facing the loss of 18,000 jobs for teenagers as a result in cuts in federal stimulus funds,” Cancino writes.

So federal programs can’t help teens get jobs, and it’s apparent that the free market can’t either. Chicago businesses are “taking a wait-and-see approach” to hiring more workers, blaming gas prices and a lack of consumer confidence. This lack of confidence in the private sector to hire more workers has been going on since 2008.

Washington’s tenuous investment in job training

Writing at the Chicago News Cooperative, Kari Lyderson looks at how money from the federal Workforce Investment Act has trained Chicago residents for the few jobs available in the current economy. Run out of the U.S. Labor Dept., the law provides $5,000 grants to match individuals with organizations that provide job training. Spending cuts in the job training program were mostly avoided in the last-minute 2011 budget, but Republican lawmakers might successfully make cuts in 2012. As Lyderson notes, any reductions come at a time when the pool of people who need job training is greater than ever, thanks to a weak national economy that is also rapidly transitioning away from industrial jobs.

DOL: We can’t get you a job, but we can get you a place to look for jobs

The U.S. Dept. of Labor has launched a Web site that helps 16-24 year-old’s find summer jobs, reports Sandra Guy of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Web site may prove useful but it pales in comparison to DOL’s previous use of federal stimulus money to subsidize summer youth jobs. That money ran out last year and cities like Chicago have since cut down on their hiring programs.

OSHA takes on Illinois grain elevators

The U.S. Dept. of Labor has fined two northwestern Illinois grain elevators $1.35 million for a number of health and safety violations. The Labor Dept.’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Haasbach LLC of Mount Carroll for 22 safety violations, many that stem from the deaths of two teen workers last summer. (more…)

Wage theft: the check is not in the mail

Crain’s Chicago Business has a comprehensive investigation of wage theft — employers who don’t pay their workers overtime or simply don’t pay them at all. (more…)

Not breaking news: Illinois owes some people money

Sean F. Driscoll of the Rockford Register-Star has a good piece on another looming fiscal problem for Illinois: the state needs to pay interest on the money it has borrowed from the U.S. Labor Dept. to pay unemployment benefits.

Between July 2009 and April 2010 Illinois borrowed $2.2 billion to pay for these benefits and, starting Jan. 1, must pay about $90 million in interest. (more…)