Human Resources News & Insights

Obama jobs bill adopts Georgia unemployment benefits program

President Obama just sent his new jobs bill to Congress, and it’s asking lawmakers to adopt the Georgia Works unemployment benefits model.

Under Georgia Works, jobless individuals collect unemployment benefits in exchange for participating in a job training program.

Basically, instead of handing the unemployed a check, the money goes to a company that’s looking for new hires. The company then uses that money to take on an unemployed individual and pay that person while they receive on-the-job training. The company can then choose to hire the trainee. If it does, it has just avoided the cost of training the person.

It allows unemployed workers to earn a paycheck, learn new skills and showcase themselves at an employer on a tryout basis.

Georgia residents who register for unemployment benefits can volunteer to receive 24 hours per week of on-the-job training for up to eight weeks. They can also receive a stipend to help cover childcare and transportation expenses while they train.

New Hampshire has adopted the Georgia Works template.

The program’s also received support from both Democrats and Republicans, so it’s likely some version of it will eventually make it out of Congress.

Jobs bill faces political battle

Obama’s jobs bill as a whole is a different story.

The $447 billion jobs bill is made up of some tax cuts and new spending — such as a reduction in the Social Security payroll tax for employers/workers, and more money for teachers, school renovations and unemployment benefits.

To help pay for the bill, it would create new restrictions on the deductions that can be claimed by wealthy taxpayers — a proposal Republicans and some Democrats have shot down in the past.

The GOP’s also indicated it’d support a payroll tax cut and finding a way to extend unemployment benefits, but it’s opposed to many of the new spending elements of the bill.

We’ll keep you posted as the bill moves through Congress.

Do you think the Georgia Works program should be implemented nationwide? Share your opinion in the Reply box below.

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  • Trace

    At first glance it seems like a solid idea. I like the idea of helping the employee and the employer. It will also help the EE keep their resume from having periods of inactivity that can sometimes be detrimental to a hiring manager.

  • Ruth Folejewski

    No. What if there is not enough employers hiring to use all of the unemployed, or types of jobs that some people would be qualified for. Someone would have to monitor the program which would be additional costs. I think that copanies should be able to make the offer if they want to fill positions and receive a tax credit but not be forced to hie only the unemployed. What about people that want to better themselves and companies don’t look at them because of this policy. I just don’t see how it would work and be fair to everyone. I think he is trying to find a needle in a hay stack.

  • Linda

    Texas would greatly benefit from this program. The immigration issues are causing my clients (I am an H.R. Consultant) to have to spend too much money in employee turnover for outdoor jobs. Unfortunately, they have had to let go of illegal employees due to E-verify, I-9 completion, etc. The undocumented employees were better employees than the applicants my clients are now receiving. One client has been through 72 employees in the last three months – Americans are not happy about working in 100+ degree temperatures – I think we can all agree to that.

    I do not believe that educated employees are going to be adversely affected by this program as stated by Ms. Folejewski. From my experience with hundreds of clients, the thing that wins employers over is someone who wants to work…does their job, and doesn’t spend all day complaining about how unfair life is. Newly graduated employees feel that they deserve to make more money regardless of experience – hands down, I would take someone who wants to work for what I am offering rather than someone with lots of education and no ability to bend. Plus, many educated people are looking for jobs too – this program is for the Unemployed.

  • Sue

    Doesn’t Georgia have one of the worst unemployment rates nationwide? Do we have statistics to substantiate that the program has been working there…is it too soon to tell if it is making a difference? If there is no track record to prove its success, why would we implement it in all states?

  • Julie

    From what I’ve read about this program, it is often more like an opportunity to audition prospective employees than it is a training program. A lot of the jobs are low-skilled, such as food service, janitorial, etc. Some companies seem to be using it simply to hire temp workers for free. Any nationwide expansion of this type of program should make sure that the participants are learning skills and earning certifications that could be useful at a variety of employers.

    While I agree with Linda F. that this poses no threat to educated workers, I also tend to believe that employers who can’t find any good employees who aren’t illegal immigrants are just not paying enough.

  • Angela

    Our company has participated in the Georgia Works program. Your accounting of how it works is not entirely accurate. We as the employer hiring a trainee did not receive any funds from the GA DOL. The trainee continued to receive their unemployment checks with an additional small stipend.

  • JP Prichard

    Does this look just like the Workforce Investment Act to anyone besides me?

  • Sheila

    I am not in favor of this. There is no “one size fits all” skill set to the unemployed, and once again we see funds being diverted out of the hands of the individual and into the hands of businesses with the hope that it will trickle down. If we want training for folks, then we should give tax breaks to technical schools.

    You have essentially tossed the unemployed worker back into the same fray — still unemployed, only now he or she will have to compete for these low paying, low skilled jobs (under the guise of training) and hope to be hired there. It is simply a way to cut UE benefits from those who have paid for them over the years while they worked. Epic FAIL.

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