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$4 million earmarked by state to help the unemployed find work

More than 1,300 long-term unemployed workers in Washington will be placed in jobs over the next year through grants awarded by Gov. Jay Inslee and the Employment Security Department.

Washington was the first state to request and be authorized to redirect $4 million in federal mass-layoff funds to efforts to reduce long-term unemployment. All 12 workforce development councils in Washington competed for the grants and each will receive a portion of the money.

The South-Central Washington Workforce Development Council, which serves residents in Yakima, Kittitas, Klickitat and Skamania counties, was awarded $228,000 to assist the unemployed in its region.

“Thousands of workers with good work histories have been left behind in our economic recovery,” Inslee said. “It’s exciting to advance our partnership with our local workforce development councils to start turning that around.”

The workforce development councils will deliver services to the long-term unemployed through local WorkSource facilities.

Examples of services offered by WorkSource include intensive job-readiness workshops and counseling, job clubs for peer-to-peer networking, business internships and on-the-job training opportunities. Local businesses will be recruited to provide practice interviews, résumé advice and business-to-business outreach to change perceptions about the skills of the long-term unemployed and help them secure jobs.

According to Employment Security records, most of the current long-term unemployed in Washington held jobs for a year or more immediately before the recession. About one-third have college degrees, and another 16 percent have at least some college-level education. Many were laid off from highly skilled jobs, including those in finance, management, health care and the sciences.

“Employers need to get past the idea that these are tainted workers,” said Employment Security Commissioner Dale Peinecke. “We’re talking about thousands of qualified people with stable work histories and high-level skills. Employers may miss out if they automatically screen out anyone who was laid off during the recession.”

Last year, the WorkSource system delivered employment and training assistance to more than 240,000 job seekers and served nearly 5,600 Washington employers. Each year, about 140,000 WorkSource customers find jobs.

Studies have shown that people who use WorkSource job-search services tend to find work faster and earn more money than those who don’t. WorkSource locations can be found on go2worksource.com.

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