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Pallone Welcomes Labor Secretary to NJ to Hear from Job Seekers

February 16, 2016
Press Release

Leaders Bring Together Older, Long-Term Unemployed Workers with Career Coaches & Employers

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) welcomed U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez to New Jersey’s 6th District to hear from workers from across the state who have experienced long-term unemployment.  These job seekers joined Pallone and Secretary Perez at a listening session with volunteer career coaches, partner organizations, and employers to discuss the unique challenges that older, long-term unemployed workers face in today’s job market.  The discussion, held at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, also highlighted the important work that programs like the New Career Start Network (NCSN) are doing to help those still struggling to find work after the Great Recession.

“While our economy has come back from the brink of collapse, our recovery from the Great Recession is ongoing, especially here in New Jersey,” said Congressman Pallone.  “There’s more that we must be doing to help our neighbors still struggling to rebound.  We need to make sure that those who have been looking for work for an extended period of time have the resources and information needed to find a good-paying job and that there’s a safety net available to those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”

Congressman Pallone also reiterated the urgent need to renew the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which provides up to 47 weeks of federally funded unemployment assistance.  House Republicans have refused to extend this critical lifeline to the long-term unemployed for over two years now.

While New Jersey added 64,500 private sector jobs last year, the state still has the 2nd highest rate of long-term unemployment in the country.  In fact, across the state, 4 in 10 unemployed job seekers—over 125,000 individuals—have been out of work six months or longer.

Older workers have even more difficulty finding new jobs after becoming unemployed.  They often face age discrimination when looking for a new job or are forced to settle for a less desirable job, accepting lower pay and benefits.  However, programs like the New Start Career Network (NSCN) offer services targeted to the needs of older, long-term unemployed job seekers.  Established by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers in 1997, NSCN helps long-term unemployed New Jerseyans, particularly those aged 45 and over, find jobs.  In addition to a broad range of services, NSCN offers one-on-one coaching by a trained corps of volunteers, access to peer support networks, and incentives that encourage employers to provide trial employment opportunities.

At the federal level, President Obama’s budget proposal, released earlier this month, takes significant steps to help the long-term unemployed and ensure that these workers have the skills they need to succeed in this 21st century economy.  This latest budget builds on the progress made with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that Congress passed in 2014 and focuses on continuing to create good jobs here at home by bolstering American manufacturing, expanding access to job training, and making critical investments in our infrastructure.