Government-Funded Job Training “Might Not Work”: Washington Post

by Hans Bader on February 19, 2012

in Economy, Employment, Politics as Usual, Zeitgeist

Even a liberal Washington Post writer admits that taxpayer-subsidized job training “might not work,” despite its popularity with politicians, and President Obama’s desire to spend billions more on it. Indeed, when unemployed workers went back to community colleges for job training, such “laid-off workers actually earned less than people who hadn’t gone back to school” right after completing their studies, admitted a report commissioned by the Labor Department, which receives money to administer job-training programs, and thus has a vested interest in supporting them and depicting them in a flattering light.

The Labor Department’s assessment of job training is much rosier than past studies that found that federal job training actually harms participants by reducing employment and earnings substantially over the long run. As James Bovard noted in the September 13, 2011 Wall Street Journal,  “An Urban Institute study of the mid-1980s concluded that participation in [federal job-training] programs resulted in ‘significant earnings losses for young men of all races and no significant effects for young women.’” Later, a study found that “young trainees were twice as likely to rely on food stamps after JTPA involvement than before.” In 1993, the Labor Department itself  “released a study that showed participation in JTPA ‘actually reduced the earnings of male out-of-school youths’” by “10%.” “And in 1985, a National Academy of Sciences study found that government jobs and training programs isolated disadvantaged youth, thus making it harder for them to fit into the real job market.”

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