TODAY I have signed into law the Emergency Employment Act of 1971, and I shall shortly urge the Congress to appropriate the full $ 1 billion authorized by the act for this fiscal year.
As I noted last week in affirming my support of this act, "The job of the administration, indeed of any administration, is to search out the best ways to deal with the problems and needs of the Nation."
America needs more jobs, and it needs them now. This Administration is working to meet this need. The Emergency Employment Act of 1971 will mean more than 150,000 additional new jobs for our unemployed and our underemployed. I am especially pleased that our returning veterans will be favored by the act, and that those with little or no job training, such as unskilled youth, will also have a chance to get jobs through this measure. The jobs provided by the act will be in the field of public service--in such areas as environment, health, education, public safety, crime prevention, prisons, transportation, park maintenance, recreation, rural development, and sanitation.
The Emergency Employment Act of 1971 will be speedy in its relief: The kind of community service activities supported do not require long lead times before their job impact is felt, such as are characteristic of public works construction projects.
A very important feature of the act, too, is that the jobs will be "transitional." This means that they will lead people into permanent jobs, and not be a substitute for them. The employment will be real and steadying; it will not be a dead end entrapment in permanent public subsidy. Local programs will be designed with a view toward career advancement and toward developing new non-subsidized careers for the worker.
The Emergency Employment Act of 1971 carries authorization for 2 years and will be triggered when the rate of national unemployment is at 4 1/2 percent or above for 3 consecutive months. In addition, the act authorizes a separate program for local areas which may suffer from continuing high unemployment. This means that a given city which experiences unemployment of 6 percent or above for 3 months will receive added assistance for its extra needs from a special $250 million authorization.
The Emergency Employment Act of 1971 is an addition to existing manpower work and training programs such as Public Service Careers program and Operation Mainstream.
In the longer term, the welfare reform program, which has passed the House and is about to be taken up by the Senate, includes two provisions directly relating to jobs. The public service employment provision would allocate $800 million for public service jobs, giving employment to some 200,000 persons. The manpower training provision would provide $540 million for job training opportunities and for the upgrading of skills of persons now working in low-paying jobs. Together, these two provisions of the welfare reform program would yield in excess of $1.3 billion for jobs and job training.
This Administration has also strongly urged passage of manpower revenue sharing. Under this program $2 billion would go to State and local governments in the first full year for manpower training. Matching local funds would not be required. Further, the money could be used for public service jobs, if the jobs are transitional in character. I am pleased that leaders of the Senate and House labor committees have agreed to hold hearings on this important measure and report out a bill before the end of this year.
The prevailing curse of securing funds from the Federal Government by the States and localities is "grantsmanship." Manpower revenue sharing would eliminate grantsmanship. As I have repeatedly stressed, existing programs are overcentralized, bureaucratic, remote from the people they serve, overguidelined, and far less effective than they might be in helping the unskilled and the disadvantaged.
I earnestly recommend that the Congress act favorably and with dispatch on the appropriations request of $1 billion for the Emergency Employment Act of 1971. I also urge early and favorable action on the welfare reform program and manpower revenue sharing.