Labor Cutbacks Would Hit Youth-Training Programs

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Under the Administration's 1987 budget proposal for the major federal job-training program, nearly half of the Job Corps centers nationwide would be closed and the summer youth-employment program would be scaled down.

The budget proposes cutting overall spending for the Job Training Partnership Act from $2.97 billion--a 1986 figure that reflects about $149 million in cuts triggered by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit-reduction law and $342 million in proposed rescissions--to $2.9 billion.

The Job Corps, which serves young people ages 16 to 21, would bear the brunt of the cut for 1987. The President's plan would slash the program's $640-million allocation for 1986--which the budget says would drop to $28 million with Gramm-Rudman-Hollings cuts and $197 million in proposed rescissions--to $351 million.

That reduction would mean the closing of about 40 of the 107 Job Corps centers around the country, beginning as early as this spring, according to Undersecretary of Labor Dennis Whitfield. The number of participants would drop from about 40,500 to 22,000.

Targeted for Elimination

The Job Corps has been targeted for elimination by the Administration in the past, but has survived because of strong Congressional support. It serves "hard-core" unemployed youths.

Mr. Whitfield said that while the Labor Department supports the program, "we are trying to face reality--some of the centers just aren't cost-effective." He said the cost per participant can range from $8,000 to $18,000, depending on the center.

The department is planning, he added, to draw up a list of criteria to judge the centers, such as cost-effectiveness, the number of participants who remain in the programs, and the number who are placed in jobs.

Under the budget proposal, the summer youth program would be funded at $428 million, a reduction from the $664 million the Congress allocated before the cuts forced by rescissions. The program serves 14-to-21-year-olds.

The cuts would reduce the number of participants in the program from 467,000 in 1987 to 414,300 in 1988, according to a Labor Department spokesman.

Those familiar with the J.T.P.A. have long criticized it for what they say is its "creaming" effect--that it serves the more promising candidates for work among the unemployed populations. The budget cuts, said Ellen Vollinger of the Full Employment Action Council, an advocacy organization, would "simply accentuate the creaming."

Under the budget proposal, a portion of the funds for the summer youth program would be mandated for a basic-literacy program now being jointly developed by the Labor and Education Departments, according to Mr. Whitfield.

The budget would maintain funding at the current-services level of about $1.8 million for Title IIA, which is aimed at disadvantaged workers. Half of the money allocated for Title ITA goes to young people between the ages of 16 and 21.

Vol. 05, Issue 22, Page 13

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