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One Year Later, Governor Paterson Leads Efforts to Protect Unemployed New Yorkers and Get Them Back to Work
Financial Services Workers Eligible for $11 Million in Grants to Fund Job-Training; With Governor Paterson's Leadership, New York Has Secured Approximately $775 Million to Help Protect the Unemployed and Improve the UI System

New York, NY (September 18, 2009) - Can't See the video? Click Here to Get Adobe Flash Player. Governor David A. Paterson today announced the availability of federal funding to assist unemployed New Yorkers, particularly those in the financial services sector crippled by the economic downturn. The $11 million National Emergency Grant (NEG), awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor, covers the tuition costs of job-training courses available at education and career centers. The funds support those in need of a competitive edge or in pursuit of a new career, retaining the intellectual capital critical to the New Economy.

“Unemployment is the highest it has been in decades, and in New York we are meeting that challenge by training workers for the jobs of the future, by building a modern unemployment insurance program, by reforming the State’s insurance law to extend COBRA benefits and by leveraging federal dollars to provide greater economic security for the unemployed,” Governor Paterson said. “I thank President Obama, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, and our State’s Congressional Delegation for committing these funds for the people of New York.”

Governor Paterson worked with New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell to apply for the NEG funding. Last February, the U.S. Department of Labor sent notification of the $11 million award, more than those obligated to other states. The last time New York received funding through the NEG program was following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The New York State Department of Labor (DOL) mailed surveys to over 5,300 individuals potentially eligible for NEG services in Westchester, Long Island and New York City, and met with more than 1,100 potential NEG workers. More than 400 training plans have since been approved or are in the process of receiving authorization for NEG tuition assistance. An estimated 1,400 workers are expected to receive NEG funding.

State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith said: “The National Emergency Grant is one of the best examples of government working for the people since the collapse on Wall Street. Since the recession began in August 2008, New York State has lost tens of thousands of jobs in the financial services sector alone, which makes this funding all the more critical to workers who need it most.”

In the year since the collapse of the financial industry, Governor Paterson has led initiatives that protect New Yorkers who lost their jobs and also prepare for changes to State’s economy. He acted as a national leader on the issue of unemployment insurance, writing last fall to both presidential candidates in favor of the Unemployment Modernization Act and testifying before Congress last winter on the same matter. In December, he wrote to then-President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden to encourage that any future stimulus package include Unemployment Insurance Modernization, which was ultimately part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

New York State received $137 million in ARRA funding to modernize the State’s unemployment system. The bulk of that funding – approximately $120 million – was used to provide Unemployment Insurance benefits for unemployed workers, with the other $17 million financing additional staffing at DOL unemployment call centers and improvements to the Unemployment Insurance system as a whole.

The Governor also led the Legislature to enact the measures needed to access $645 million in additional UI funds. That legislation extended UI benefits by 13 weeks for more than 120,000 New Yorkers and also made amendments to the State’s eligibility standards to ensure that New York met the conditions for an additional $275 million for UI modernization.

“In this economic crisis, we have an obligation in government to do everything in our power to assist New Yorkers and I have made this a priority of my Administration,” Governor Paterson added.

Senate President Malcolm A. Smith said, “New York State is home to some of the brightest minds in the country, however the collapse on Wall Street and the historic financial crisis our State is facing has left many of these workers unemployed. I applaud the Governor for securing this funding to assist New Yorkers in obtaining the training necessary to be competitive in the 21st century job market.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said: “With this grant we will be able to assist the many talented, innovative men and women who worked in the financial industry to obtain the training needed to transition into other sectors of our economy. Our workforce is our most valuable economic asset. I commend President Obama and Governor Paterson for their efforts to bring this program to New York, which will help bolster our economic recovery.”

Senator George Onorato, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Labor, said: “During this time of serious economic challenge, it is vital that we do everything in our power to put people back to work and help to prepare them for the jobs of the future. With unemployment at such high levels, people from all walks of life, all income levels, and all occupations are grappling with joblessness or fearing that it's right around the corner. This retraining funding, targeted for New Yorkers who have lost their jobs in the financial services sector, is an important step towards helping these employees move forward and succeed in the years to come.”

Senator Daniel Squadron said: “In times like these, money for jobs is more important than ever. In the State of New York, we need every possible dollar of job training and wage subsidy funding available. I commend the Governor for drawing down this stimulus money and making employment a priority statewide. Earlier today, DOL announced that the New York State seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in August reached 9 percent, its highest level since April 1983. New York City’s unemployment rate also increased to 10.3 percent in August, its highest level since May 1993.

Assemblyman Marc Alessi, Chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Emerging Workforce, said: “Given the circumstances of our tough economy, this funding for job training programs for unemployed New Yorkers could not come at a better time. I have been holding hearings across the State to discuss ways to help the emerging workforce gain a competitive edge in the growing high tech industry. Especially with our new economy’s emphasis on green jobs and high tech industries, training our workforce will help them succeed and not let them fall behind.”