Anyone who thinks New York City will be able to emulate the much-touted success of Wisconsin’s welfare-to-work program should read a sobering job market study just released by the Community Service Society.
In “Where the Jobs Are,” CSS staffers Hugh O’Neill and Kathryn Garcia maintain that the mayor’s plan to push 40,000 people into the workforce this fiscal year can be done. But the city will be hard-pressed to find placements for the 205,000 people that will be forced to find work under the new federal welfare law rules.
So far, the city’s welfare-to-work efforts have focused primarily on placing people into its Work Experience Program (WEP), in which welfare recipients work off their checks in low-skilled sanitation, janitorial and clerical jobs. City officials admit that this is not a permanent jobs program nor are there any indications that such a program is in the works.
The report, which surveyed employers and analyzed where the key jobs are likely to be, has some good news: one-fifth of the welfare population can be successfully moved into the workplace each year over the next few years.
But to make such a transitions successful, the authors argue that the state needs to slow its timetable for moving people off public assistance. They offer a dozen recommendations about how best to do this. To order a copy of the report, call (212) 614-5314.