November 24, 2008

Federal job centers crowded and hopeful

The U.S. Labor Department said it expected 6 million more people to use federal workforce programs in 2008, a 42 percent jump over 2005.

The department said 20 million people may use the nation's 2,942 one-stop labor programs that help job-seekers, up from 14 million three years ago, The New York Times reported Monday.

While the numbers swell, the federal budget for the programs declined 1.74 percent to $3.7 billion this year. Compared with the 2000-2007 period, budgets for the programs have dropped 14 percent, the Times said.

The numbers fluctuate from region to region. In Broward County, Fla., where the real estate market collapsed, job-seekers at the job center increased 60 percent this year.

You just hope you get your name called, said Jerome Grant, 20, a Jamaican immigrant with a culinary arts degree who recently applied at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., job center for a two-month job with United Parcel Service.

The job paid $8.50 an hour and there were 300 applicants applying for 150 available slots, the Times said.

The job market, really puts those folks who may have been on the edge further behind, said Kelly Allen, a vice president of Broward County's Workforce One programs.