WIB News - October 2009 Issue
DEED Stimulus Funding Reaches Out to Minnesotans
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has spent or made commitments to spend about $287 million in federal stimulus funding, about 92 percent of the $311 million that the agency received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
DEED has targeted the funding for sewer and water projects, unemployment insurance benefits, and employment and training programs in Minnesota.
“Our goal was to put this money to work as quickly as possible,” said DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy. “Communities and job seekers throughout Minnesota are seeing tangible results from this funding.” DEED applied the funding to current programs as part of an effort to significantly expand services from current levels. The funding is being spent under existing federal rules and meets job-tracking, transparency and accountability requirements.
Here is a breakdown of how the funding has been committed so far:
Unemployment Insurance Program
The agency was allocated $130 million to pay for unemployment insurance benefits for Minnesota residents who lost their jobs. All of that funding has now been paid. Another $9.3 million has been targeted for technology and system upgrades.
The federal stimulus funds also support the payment of other Unemployment Insurance benefits. DEED has implemented a $25 supplemental payment to all unemployment insurance recipients, which is expected to pay out $180 million in 2009. The stimulus package extends federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits through the end of 2009, providing an additional $390 million in benefits. The stimulus funds will also pay for all of the state extended benefits, which are typically paid half by the state and half by the federal government.
The stimulus bill also waives interest on state loans from the federal Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which is used to pay state Unemployment Insurance benefits through the end of 2010.
Public Facilities Authority
About $94.6 million has been committed for 40 wastewater, sanitary sewer and drinking water improvement projects in Greater Minnesota, and about $250,000 is expected to be committed.
Small Cities Development Program
The full allocation of $5.1 million has been committed for public infrastructure, multi-family housing and rehabilitation projects in 15 communities in Greater Minnesota.
Dislocated Worker Program
About $20.6 million has been committed to assist laid-off workers, with an emphasis on training to help them prepare for new careers.
Youth Employment Program
About $16.1 million has been committed to pay for jobs in the public and private sectors for at-risk youth and to help train them in various occupational skills. They will receive work-readiness certificates upon successful completion of the program. The funding has enabled 5,650 young people in Minnesota to find work this summer. For more youth employment program news, see story ‘ARRA Delivers Thousands of Jobs for At-Risk Young Adults’ in this edition of WIB News.
About $6.9 million has been committed, primarily for temporary staff members to assist customers with career planning and counseling, job searches, resume-writing and other assistance. DEED has hired additional people to help staff WorkForce Centers statewide with ARRA funds.
Adult employment and training -- About $6.3 million has been committed for the program, which is designed to help people facing barriers to employment move from low-income jobs to middle-income jobs. Services include skills assessments, remedial education, job training and job-search guidance. Most services will be provided through the state’s 47 WorkForce Centers.
Senior Community Service Employment Program
About $544,000 has been committed for SCSEP, which provides part-time community service assignments for people 55 or older who have earnings of less than 125 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
State Services for the Blind
About $1.4 million has been committed. The program will use some of the funding to hire counselors and placement coordinators to help visually-impaired customers find and keep jobs. Other funding will be spent on technology and to help seniors who have difficulty living independently in their homes or communities.
Vocational Rehabilitation Services
About $4.2 million has been committed for services for people with disabilities, including on-the-job training, work experience programs, and skills development and technology.
Centers for Independent Living
About $1.4 million has been committed to support eight existing Centers for Independent Living, which provide skills training, peer counseling, transportation assistance, home and work modification, and many other services to people with disabilities to help them live independently in their community.
ARRA Delivers Thousands of Jobs for Minnesota’s At-Risk Youth
Minnesota nearly tripled the number of youth who had summer jobs thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). By the end of July, Minnesota’s Workforce Service Areas (WSAs)/Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs) had already exceeded their planned enrollment levels for the summer of 2009, said Kay Tracy, director of the Office of Youth Development.
Over 6,000 Minnesota teens and young adults were employed this summer thanks to the federal stimulus funds, said Tracy. Minnesota’s share of the Youth Recovery Act funding was $17 million. Approximately 85 percent of the ARRA dollars will be expended for summer youth employment, and 15 percent will be used to expand year-round services through the WSAs/LWIBs.
Nationwide, 300,000 young people were placed in summer jobs thanks to the ARRA -- at a time when the youth unemployment rate was at its highest level in nearly 65 years.
The program is designed to serve low-income and at-risk youth who have additional barriers to employment such as juvenile records, limited English skills and disabilities. Those who are in foster care, and older youth who are disengaged from education and employment also face barriers, Tracy said.
Minnesota’s efforts have gone so well that a policy research institute hired to study the effectiveness of the federal government teen jobs effort selected two Minnesota WSAs out of a total of 20 around the nation. Minnesota was among the first to set up its program.
“We had the infrastructure already in place thanks to the state-funded Minnesota Youth Program,” Tracy said. "Summer jobs are really building blocks for year-round and longer term work experiences for low-income youth in the labor market. We’re providing them with critical education and skill development, financial literacy and career exploration."
Media attention was high during the summer of 2009. Local news outlets highlighted the work of Minnesota youth across the state in stories about:
The efforts of youth in Baudette as a part of Rural Minnesota CEP’s summer youth program, available at
Youth in the Thief River Falls area of northwestern Minnesota doing a variety of tasks in the community, available at www.PositivelyMinnesota.com/youth/recovery/docs/arra_media-pressStories/YouthatWork_TRF_Times_7-1-2009.pdf
The program providing funds for a participant to help in the counseling offices of a local community college in Dakota County, available at http://www.startribune.com/local/south/49149532.html?elr=KArks7PYDiaK7DUqEiaDUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU
In Minneapolis, young adults worked at 50 businesses in three primary areas: health care, construction,and green-related jobs.
“The importance of wages earned by youth employees cannot be overstated,” said Anne Fischer, of the Minneapolis Employment and Training Program. “Often youth help support their family's household needs with their income. Earnings they choose to spend are infused in the community and help to stimulate the economy. Approximately $1 million of the Minneapolis' Youth Recovery Act funding is allocated to youth wages."
An article from the Minnesota Daily, the student newspaper at the University of Minnesota, looks at some of efforts taking place within the city of Minneapolis during the summer of 2009. It’s available at www.mndaily.com/2009/06/23/youth-employment-priority-minneapolis
In the Greater Mankato area, federal stimulus funds helped local nonprofit Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC) more than double the number of young workers placed in summer jobs. In MVAC’s nine-county service area, 218 employers hired 384 young workers, who are projected to earn a combined $610,000 from May to September.
Youth in Ramsey County were placed in summer jobs throughout the community.
Economic Prosperity Road Show Concludes for Summer
DEED Schedules Fall Session in Virginia
Themed “Advancing Economic Prosperity: Partnering to Shape our Future,” discussions led by DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy focused on the economy, how the last legislative session affects workforce and economic development, and how federal stimulus dollars are being spent in the state.
The commissioner ended his 10-city summer road show with an Aug. 27 visit to Brainerd. New this year were breakout sessions and a resource fair so partners could speak to state and federal partners about their concerns.
First up and particularly successful was the Granite Falls road show on July 23, said Bonnie Elsey, Workforce Development Division director. Elsey moderated a discussion with Adult Basic Education, Minnesota Department of Industry and Labor, Workforce Service Area and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) representatives on challenges and opportunities for the future. There was good audience participation, she said. Duane Benson, MnSCU trustee and executive director of the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation talked about ethanol and workforce and business challenges. About 70 people attended the Granite Falls road show.
The agency will soon take its same show to the Iron Range community of Virginia. DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy and other agency officials will appear from 1 to 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26, at Mesabi Range Community & Technical College.
Local officials, economic and workforce development leaders, educators, business leaders, legislators and the media are encouraged to attend. Registration will begin 30 minutes before the event, which will be held on campus at C-175 Main Auditorium, 1001 Chestnut St. W.
People who plan to attend the session are asked to send an e-mail to Mary Schneider at email@example.com . They should include their name and the organization that they represent.
Key Program Contacts
Key Publication Contacts
We Need Your Feedback
We're trying to make this newsletter as timely and useful as we possibly can and, to accomplish that goal, we need to know what you want to know. We need and welcome any feedback you can offer – especially concerning topics of broad statewide or regional interest to the WIBs and all other partners. To register your questions, comments, complaints and suggestions, simply send an e-mail to Kathy.Sweeney@state.mn.us. We'll do our best to address your concerns directly and use your feedback to help us develop articles for future editions of the newsletter.