Illinois is moving forward with the “Put Illinois to Work” program, an initiative that leverages federal dollars to fill as many as 15,000 full-time positions at Illinois companies with unemployed workers.
According to an announcement by the Illinois Senate Democrats,
Employers will receive extra employees at no cost to them: the program is funded by state and federal stimulus dollars, and Heartland Human Care Services Inc. will handle payroll and guarantees no wage expenses for employers.
A similar program in Indiana was authorized by the General Assembly this year, but FSSA has yet to act on implementing the program. Under the Helping Indiana Restart Employment (H.I.R.E) program, which was included in SEA 23, nearly 10,000 unemployed Hoosiers could be rehired.
The program calls for tapping $100 million available in federal stimulus funds that otherwise will be left on the table. The Indiana program was modeled after the Mississippi STEPs program, implemented by Republican Governor Haley Barbour.
Why the rush?
The federal funding – available through the TANF Emergency Fund established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – is set to expire on September 30. By that time many Hoosiers will have exhausted their unemployment benefits. Indiana’s unemployment rate has hovered above the national average and is now at 9.9%.
How other states are using the funds
Some 42 states have had their applications for TANF Emergency Funds approved and additional states have applications in the works. As of April 1, 26 states had been authorized to use TANF Emergency Funds to establish new or expand subsidized employment programs: Alabama, California, Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.
These states have plans in place to provide subsidized jobs to about 160,000 individuals by the end of September.
Here are a few examples of how other states are leveraging the federal funds:
- Tennessee, for example, has focused job creation efforts on areas of very high unemployment. The creation of subsidized jobs in rural Perry County helped to lower its unemployment rate from 27.3 percent in January 2009 to 18.6 percent in August 2009.
- New York has mounted an initiative to create “green jobs,” expand health care outreach, and subsidize private-sector employers who hire new permanent employees.
- California is creating subsidized employment programs through an initiative in 43 of its 52 counties that aims to eventually place about 20,000 individuals in subsidized jobs. As of January 2010, there were about 15,000 active placements in counties throughout the state.
See a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for more examples from other states.