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Workforce act doesn’t work

Posted: August 19, 2014 8:39 a.m.
Updated: August 20, 2014 6:00 a.m.

The unemployment rate here in Kershaw County and across South Carolina, as well as the rest of the United States, remains disappointingly high. The economy is still mired in slow growth, and too many people are out of work. Yet a recent study by a national newspaper shows how ineffective government jobs programs can be and points out that many people who have tried to take advantage of them end up worse off than they were before starting them.

With little discussion, Congress recently re-authorized the Workforce Investment Act, a $3.1-billion federal program. But the New York Times points out that the program has been startlingly ineffective. Under its tenets, federal officials dispense money and states license job training programs, but there is little oversight by either the feds or states. Some of the training programs are conducted at institutions that charge huge fees but produce few jobs. Their advertising claims don’t hold up to scrutiny, and some have committed fraud in their quest for Uncle Sam’s dollars.

Government-run jobs programs have always borne their share of controversy, with many being perceived as bloated and inefficient. And splitting oversight between the federal and state governments has left people befuddled, as the right hand often doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Nearly everyone is frustrated, including Americans the program was designed to serve as well as officials who work within the program. So lacking is the program in accountability that officials say they’re unable to give even a rough estimate of the number of people who have actually gotten jobs through the Workforce Investment Act.

It illustrates, once again, how dreadfully wrong things can go when government jumps into things without proper planning or oversight.

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