Wisconsin has launched a bold initiative to create transitional jobs for the state's unemployed. That's according to David Riemer, a former Doyle administration official now with Community Advocates Public Policy Institute in Milwaukee.
"The whole idea is to keep unemployed people who don't have any other way of getting income, because they don't have any unemployment insurance anymore, to keep them connected to work, bringing in some income," says Riemer.
Language in the state budget provides for state funding to establish transitional jobs programs in the state. Riemer says while everyone hopes the economy rebounds, that may not happen right away. "We're going to be facing, I think, very large job shortages for months, even years to come," he says. Riemer says there are far more unemployed job seekers than available job openings, and even if every vacant position could be filled, Wisconsin would still be short more than 200,000 jobs.
In the short term, state transitional jobs programs will provide only some 2500 jobs, but Riemer says moving slowly is important. "I do think that there's a value to not rushing foolishly into this, and doing the first thing that comes along," he says. "This has got to be perceived as a program where every single penny goes into real work that's improving the state. No one should get paid for doing anything other than real, hard work, doing something useful. We don't want a hint of scandal or waste or inefficiency touching this program."