Earlier this week, proposed congressional budget cuts in 2013 spending called for steep reductions in employment related programs, including a 12 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Labor. This significant decrease would adversely impact employment training programs for women veterans and women victims of violence who are struggling to find employment.
According to their 2013 budget request, the Department of Labor's allocation for the existing Pathways Back to Work Fund would be significantly reduced. This fund helps current low-income adult workers gain new skills in order to stay in the workforce long-term. Together with the Department of Education, the Department of Labor would support partnerships between community colleges, states, and businesses that would aid job transition for these vulnerable adults. For women 20 years and over, the latest household data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the unemployment rate decreasing, from 7.9 in January 2011 to 7.7 in January 2012 (seasonally adjusted). Now that the unemployment rate seems to be decreasing for these women, why cut the funds that are helping women find long-term careers?
More than ever, the large number of enlisted servicemen and National Guard returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters are finding traditional employment assistance programs leaving record numbers out of work and financially vulnerable. Veterans would also have benefited greatly from the Department of Labor's funding in 2013. Not only does the department intend to support educational opportunities, but they also plan to fund employment and additional transitional services to help veterans get a civilian job (Department of Labor 2013 Budget Request). The budget would also have promoted grants for employment services to veterans. As far as female veterans, more than 20 percent of these women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan could not find a job in December 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Transitional services would have been especially helpful for female veterans, as they seem to have a harder time finding and staying in a civilian job after they leave the military. This is due to a Veterans Affairs system that has much to be desired as far as meeting essential needs of women: health care, child care, and psychological needs.
As the president and founder of Second Chance Employment Services, I know how important transitional services are to veteran and low-income women. I also know how important job training is, especially now, when an overwhelming number of Americans are competing for employment. Veterans and women victims of violence are extremely disadvantaged in this job market, as many have not been employed in years, and they have not learned unique skills specific to their dream careers. At Second Chance, we help women victims of violence and women veterans find and secure jobs. We help women with job applications, schedule interviews and provide interview training, and we track their progress in their new jobs. The GOP's proposed budget cut will not only slash women veterans' and victims of violence chances of getting a job, but it will also put more pressure on nonprofits like mine to fill in the public job service gaps the government cannot.