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Blumenthal Introduces Bill to Combat Unemployment

(New Haven, CT) -  Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today joined regional workforce development and education leaders at Gateway Community College in New Haven to announce his Pathways Back to Work Act, a bill to provide immediate relief to unemployed individuals, and workforce training programs to those seeking to learn new skills. Blumenthal was joined by Mike Meotti of the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education and local development leaders, including Bill Villano, Executive Director of the Workforce Alliance, a workforce investment board which works to deliver workforce services to Connecticut.

“The Pathways Back to Work Act recognizes that workforce development programs are key to reducing long-term unemployment - a persistent problem that harms the middle class and economy as a whole,” said Blumenthal. “This initiative will empower families and individuals in Connecticut by providing the skills and opportunities necessary to reconnect them with the workforce.”

“Senator Blumenthal’s proposed legislation addresses the core issues related to the nation’s unprecedented long-term unemployment problem. The Pathways Back to Work Act has all the right elements, for workers, for businesses, for the economy, and especially, for developing the skills of our future workforce,” said Bill Villano. “Connecticut businesses can only grow and prosper if we have educated and trained individuals ready to go to work.”

Pathways Back to Work, a measure that embraces several key elements of President Obama's American Jobs Act, uses workforce development programs to break the cycle of unemployment, specifically targeting the long-term unemployed. At the event, Blumenthal discussed statewide employment needs and how this measure would address them to create jobs and reduce persistent unemployment among families in Connecticut. 

One in three unemployed individuals have been unemployed for more than a year, prompting the Chairman of the Federal Reserve to recently call long-term unemployment a “national crisis.” Additionally, youth unemployment remains high, making it difficult for young people to learn workplace skills and reducing their ability to seek higher education.

The Pathways Back to Work Act seeks to address these issues through three key elements:

• Job Creation for Struggling Working Families: Allocates $5 billion for a fund to create jobs for unemployed adults, providing an immediate economic boost and immediate relief to families who have been struggling with unemployment.

• Summer and Year Round Jobs for Youth: Program would include $1.5 billion in funding for programs to provide summer and year-round employment opportunities for youth. 

• Competitive Grants for Work-Based Training for Unemployed Adults and Youth: Would provide a $1.5 billion competitive grant program to local entities offering work-based training or education programs for unemployed adults and youth.