Finally… a welfare program that could actually work
Progress Illinois had some great news for us today. Our state has come up with the funds to start the “Put Illinois to Work” program, and unlike regular welfare payments, it’s a program that may actually do some good.
With money from the stimulus backed TANF emergency program, the state will be funding jobs for low-income workers by giving money directly to businesses to cover their payroll if they hire these low-income workers.
It’s called a “transitional job,” and it’s not a new idea, but it’s a darn good one.
Unlike a lot of other anti-poverty programs, transitional jobs help employers hire new workers – workers that may not have a lot of job experience or a very impressive resume. The employers can hire low-income people without taking a financial risk – at least at first – and the worker gets paid and gets training and job experience.
A lot of times, these employers end up hiring these temporary workers. After all, they’ve been trained and they know what kind of worker they are. It’s just like how having an unpaid internship is the best way to get a job at a lot of places – once they see you, they like you, and they tend to keep you around
But even if a worker isn’t hired long term, they still get valuable experience and money in their pocket. Unemployment is a disease that gets worse as it settles in – the longer you are unemployed, the less likely you are to find another job. So recent job experience on your resume is a boon, even if you don’t get hired at the place you were working at.
Right now, our welfare system sucks bigtime.
If you want to get welfare payments, you better be working. You better not be going to school to prepare yourself for a job in the future. And if you’re not working, you have to “work” for the state doing menial labor, like unloading boxes for the Salvation Army – something that’s certainly not going to give you a resume boost.
These regulations keep people in poverty. Many low-income people have trouble finding a job, so they’re not working already. They can’t go to school and keep getting money, so they don’t pursue the education that could launch them into the middle class. Instead, they spend their time doing hard labor, moving boxes but not moving forward.
“Putting Illinois to Work” helps everyone. It helps employers who may need to hire new workers, but are nervous to take the chance in an unsure economy. It helps low-income people by getting them working in actual jobs and making a decent wage – not the pittance that welfare payments provide.
It helps all of us as taxpayers by incentivizing work. When people are done with their temporary job, they’re more likely to get another one. That means they’re contributing to the tax structure and less dependent on social services.
After forty years in the ‘War on Poverty’, it’s wonderful that we’re finally getting it right and creating programs that stand a chance of helping people.
Job placements begin April 1st and the jobs last through September 30th. Do you know anyone who’s in need of a job or an employer who would be willing to take on and train low income workers? Check out the Illinois Department of Human Services website and get connected to the resources that can help us cut poverty long term.