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House passes TANF subsidised jobs bill
Kirill Abbakumov   on Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 8:00:00 am

On June 23, 2017, the House passed the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act (H.R. 2842) which would allocate $100 million under the current Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) contingency fund for demonstration grants to support subsidized jobs programs. At least one of the demonstration projects supported by the grants would need to fund registered apprenticeship programs, and the bill requires that 15% of the overall funding be reserved for career pathways programs as defined by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

More than 80% of today’s jobs require postsecondary education and training, but less than 10% of adult TANF recipients have education beyond high school. Despite these barriers, less than 7% of combined federal and state TANF spending goes to work, education and training programs. 

Under current law, TANF funds can be used by states to subsidize TANF recipient’s wages, however less than 1% of total TANF spending is used on subsidized jobs programs. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) also provided an additional $5 billion in funding to supplement states’ TANF spending on subsidized jobs, though that funding expired after FY2010. These programs can be successful if they connect participants to training and upskilling opportunities, like those available in apprenticeship programs and when built into career pathways programs.

The bill recognizes the importance of investing in training opportunities for TANF recipients, a population and an activity drastically underfunded in the current TANF system. However, the Act currently lacks language that would see the program receive increased annual funding to keep pace with historic levels of investment and dedicate new resources for proven strategies like industry partnerships and career pathways.