The narrative is playing out like clock-work. The progressive machine is chugging along like a well-oiled machine. We have reached the phase in Baltimore where we pretend to look for root causes and then conclude that an absence of government programs explains why young black men like Freddie Gray make bad choices. A lack of job training programs, we are supposed to recite in lock-step, is why inner city unemployment figures are brutally high. Had there been just one more program, why Freddie Gray would be a suit and tie guy today and his neighborhood would be awash in commerce. That’s the narrative anyway.
But there are already 47 programs at the federal level that provide job training. An additional 50 are considered to be programs that indirectly support workforce development. (A listing of the 47 programs appears at the end of this article). Those numbers don’t include state and local job training programs.
These programs receive $43 billion dollars each year. Of that, 58 percent isn’t used to support job training. it covers overhead, salaries, and operating expenses instead. Only about $18 billion actually gets spent on job training. A staggering 8.6 million Americans are currently out of work (according to the administration; the number is higher if the Labor Department’s U6 measurement is cited). Roughly $5000 per unemployed American is allocated through these programs to train them so that they can join the workforce.
People would almost be better off if these programs were closed and checks were cut for $5000 per individual to use at community colleges or trade schools.
Despite all this money spent, the GAO in a 2011 review admitted “little is known about program effectiveness”. In other words, billions of dollars go into the programs but no clear and consistent method tracks how well these programs perform. In fact, three programs engage in no form of outcomes measurement at all. 39 did track whether participants eventually found jobs. Only 29 followed up to see if people kept those jobs or not.
It’s kind of like setting up a lemonade stand, serving lemonade, and then asking customers why grass is green and then wondering whether the lemonade is any good or not.
A lack of job training programs doesn’t seem to be the problem then. Make no mistake, Democrat politicians make a lot of money begging for and then creating social programs. Some even accrue a legacy by doing so. (If you ever travel through Washington, DC or West Virginia notice how many things are named for Marion Barry and Senator Robert “KKK” Byrd respectively, and their role in the various programs that made those things so). With 47 programs spending billions ineffectively, at a minimum we ought to set and enforce higher standards on what’s already in place.
That’s not all though. It’s important to understand and then rid ourselves of a remarkable paradigm at the root of this. The notion that proliferation of job training programs directly translates into employment is shovel-ready Keynesian nonsense. It implies that these programs somehow produce jobs – that if there were a job training office on every street corner jobs would somehow appear in every neighborhood.
Ignored are the job creators, and the business climate (tax rates, regulatory environment, local operating costs for rent and utilities, crime rates, etc) which can foster or negate economic development. There’s a reason Tesla chose Nevada over California for it’s “Power Wall” battery plant – California has plenty of job training programs all over the state but Nevada by far has a superior business climate. It’s pure economic ignorance to consider job creation as being the direct result of job training programs alone, and to pretend that business climate has no effect.
As the narrative trudges on, it’s time not to ask about creating more job training programs, but to ask Democrats why they’ve spent billions on programs that – in some cases by their own admission – can’t even assess the outcome of their efforts. And why they can’t or won’t see the connection between the business climate change they’ve imposed upon millions of Freddie Grays. It brings into question Democrats very qualification for addressing the problems faced in urban America today.
(The below list is from US Government Accountability Office report “GAO-11-92 Multiple Employment and Training Programs”)
Department of Labor
– Community Based Job Training Grants
– Disabled Veterans Outreach Program
– Employment Service/Wagner-Peyser Funded Activities
– H-1B Job Training Grants
– Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project
– Job Corps
– Local Veterans Employment Representative Program
– National Farmworker Jobs Program
– Native American Employment and Training
– Registered Apprenticeship
– Reintegration of Ex-Offenders
– Senior Community Service Employment Program
– Trade Adjustment Assistance
– Transition Assistance Program
– Veterans Workforce Investment Program
– Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult Program
– WIA Youth Activities
– WIA Dislocated Workers
Department of Education
– American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services
– Career and Technical Education Basic Grants to States
– Career and Technical Education Indian set-aside
– Grants to States for Workplace and Community Transition Training for Incarcerated Individuals
– Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Program
– Native Hawaiian Career and Technical Education
– Projects with Industry
– Rehabilitation Services Vocational Grants to States
– State-sponsored employment.services program
– Tech-prep Education
– Tribally Controlled Post-secondary Career and Technical Institutions
Department of Health and Human Services
– Community Services Block Grant
– Refugee and Entrant Assistance (REA) Voluntary Agency Matching Grant Program
– REA Targeted Assistance Grants
– REA Social Services Program
– REA Targeted Assistance Discretionary Program
– Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
– Native Employment Works program
Department of the Interior
– Conservation Activities by Youth Service Organizations
– indian Employment Assistance
– Indian Vocational Training United Tribes Technical College
Department of Agriculture
– SNAP Employment and Training Program
Department of Defense
– National Guard Youth Challenge Program
Department of Justice
– Second Chance Act Prisoner Re-entry Initiative
Department of Veterans Affairs
– Vocational Rehabilitation for Disabled Veterans
Environmental Protection Agency
– Brownfield Job Training Cooperative Agreements