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Forever unemployed: Why N.J.’s long-term jobless rate remains among highest in U.S.


Alain Chahine lost his job two years ago.

Since then, he said, he has completed more than 600 applications and sent 200 messages to his network looking for leads.

Those efforts produced 18 interviews in 2013, 35 more in 2014 and 12 so far this year, Chahine said.

But the number of full-time job offers to date?


“There’s nothing funny about the job search process,” said the 57-year-old northern New Jersey resident. “You’re at the mercy of the process itself and that’s the frustrating part.”

Federal jobs reports point to a rebounding labor market, though the unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent in March. But the percentage of jobless residents out of work 27 weeks or more remains historically high.

Nationally, about 30 percent of jobless residents have been unemployed at least 27 weeks.

The situation is much worse in New Jersey.

Of 302,000 unemployed residents in New Jersey in 2014, roughly 41 percent, or 125,000 people, have been out of work at least 27 weeks, according to federal labor data. Though down from a peak of about 51 percent in 2010, the data still mean New Jersey’s long-term jobless rate is among the highest in the nation.

Only New Mexico and Washington, D.C., posted higher rates in 2014. North Dakota, Iowa and Alaska, on the other hand, had the lowest long-term unemployment rates in the country last year.

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Looking for Employees? The Garden State is “Ready to Work”

From New Jersey Business Magazine:

The New Jersey Community College Consortium recently launched The Ready to Work New Jersey program, designed to connect employers with the long-term unemployed. Thanks to a $10 million federal grant and another $2 million from the NJ Department of Labor & Workforce Development, employers are able to hire individuals within the program and receive a subsidy for their salary. Additionally, the long term unemployed that participate in the program receive free professional development and employability skills training at their local community college.

Ready to Work NJ is a great program, and NJBIA is honored to promote the program to employers statewide.

NJBIA has also recently updated its Fast Facts on Workforce Training and Education, which provides information on a wide range of state resources, including financing, incentives, and grants designed to assist New Jersey employers hire and train employees, including the “Ready to Work New Jersey” program.

SAVE THE DATE – NJBIA Education & Workforce Development Policy Committee

The next NJBIA Education & Workforce Development Policy Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at the NJBIA headquarters located at 10 West Lafayette Street, Trenton, NJ.  Registration and continental breakfast will start at 8:30 a.m. with the meeting beginning at 9:00 a.m. Parking is available in the parking garage across the street from the NJBIA Headquarters.

To register, please email Sharesse Jackson at or call Sharesse at 609-858-9508.

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New Hope For Weary Job Seekers ‘Ready To Work New Jersey’ Will Connect The Long-Term Unemployed With Companies Who Need Their Skills

As originally published in NJ Business Monthly

They are called the “exhaustees.”

They are men and women of every ilk, some with exceptional skills and talents. They have been desperately seeking work for a long time. They have exhausted their unemployment benefits, and they are – quite literally – exhausted and demoralized from their endless search for a good job.

They are the long-term unemployed, out of work for six months or more. They are your friends, relatives or neighbors, many of them veterans or casualties of the Great Recession. They number more than 3 million in the US and 160,000 in New Jersey.

NJ BIZ Photo
New Jersey Ready to Work will train and connect job seekers whose unemployment benefits have been exhausted with employers who need their skills. Photo credit: Bromford, Creative Commons

Fortunately, in New Jersey, there is new hope for this weary crowd.

Thanks to a $10 million federal grant awarded to New

Jersey’s consortium of 19 community colleges, New

Jersey is one of only 16 states implementing Ready to Work programs designed specifically to connect the most qualified of these job seekers with employers who need their skills. The NJ Department of Labor & Workforce Development is contributing another $2 million to the effort.

“Over the next four years, in New Jersey alone, we intend to assist up to 1,000 of these individuals in preparing for and finding good jobs. We will provide them with needed training, certifications, networking and support services of every kind,” said Sivaraman Anbarasan, CEO of the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce & Economic Development, which was awarded the grant and will coordinate the program throughout the state.

New Jersey Ready to Work will train and connect job seekers whose unemployment benefits have been exhausted with employers who need their skills.
The Ready to Work New Jersey program will be as much a boon to participating employers as it will be to those who find work through it. Even before the grant was awarded, 21 companies made a commitment to hire through this program. A large part of the grant has been reserved for salary reimbursements to the employers hiring the grant candidates. Industry associations including NJBIA, NJTC and BioNJ, along with New Jersey’s talent networks, will promote the program to employers statewide.

“State labor data shows that many employers are having difficulty finding the right people with the right skills, training and experience to fill their jobs at all levels,” Anbarasan said. “Our program connects those employers with job seekers who have the right experience and work ethic, and it offers subsidized, on-the-job training to close the skills gap.”

The US Department of Labor selected the New Jersey Community College Consortium to receive the grant based largely on the strength of its success in designing and implementing two earlier employment training programs, the NJBIA Basic Skills Workforce Training Program and the NJ Manufacturing Training Initiative. Backed by state and federal grants, these and similar programs over the past ten years have served more than 100,000 incumbent and unemployed workers at over 5,400 employers throughout the state.

Christie Administration’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Program Graduates 11 More Students Equipped, Ready to Work in One of New Jersey’s Key Industry Sectors

LINCROFT, N.J., March 09, 2015 – New Jersey’s Fabricated Metal Product/CNC Manufacturing program graduated its newest class of trainees today during a ceremony held at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft. The Christie Administration launched the advanced manufacturing training initiative about three years ago in partnership with the New Jersey Community College Consortium and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association Manufacturers Network, which is led by LWD’s Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network.
“We are proud of this Fabricated Metal Product/CNC Manufacturing program,” said New Jersey Labor Commissioner Harold J. Wirths. “We changed our training model by aligning our training efforts with the needs of New Jersey employers, which give the participants in the program an opportunity for a real job that’s in demand while also offering a sustainable career.”

Today’s event marks the 11th class of graduates from the Metal Product/CNC Manufacturing program, and the second training class to use the mobile lab unveiled last summer. The mobile lab is a self-contained manufacturing learning workshop on wheels equipped with nearly 400 square feet of classroom space as well as computers and hands-on equipment to train individuals in the advanced manufacturing areas of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) metal fabrication and mechatronics.

Of the 11 students graduating, two are taking on full-time positions and two have job offers pending. Nearly 200 individuals have been trained in metal fabrication, CNC and certified production technicians with an 85 percent job placement rate.

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After months without work, advocate for jobless hired to help other-long term unemployed

John Fugazzie is back to work.

The River Edge resident went 18 months without full-time employment before being hired in December as a program coordinator for Ready to Work NJ, a federal and state effort to help the long-term unemployed.

Despite not knowing where his next paycheck would come from, Fugazzie’s stint without work allowed him to focus on Neighbors-helping-Neighbors, the job search support and networking group he founded in 2011 and to advocate for other long-term unemployed people.

In January 2014, he and other jobs club members met with Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. A suggestion made at the meeting led to a provision in President Obama’s 2016 budget that would remove tax penalties for long-term unemployed people who make early withdrawals from their 401k plans.

“It’s pretty exciting to think we had impact as ordinary citizens,” Fugazzie said.

Now, as a program coordinator, Fugazzie will get paid for his advocacy. The Department of Labor in October gave a $10 million Ready to Work grant to the New Jersey Council of County Colleges to help address the long-term unemployment problem.

“Essentially I was hired by the grant and that’s an outgrowth of my volunteer work,” Fugazzie said.

New Jersey has a particularly dire long-term unemployment problem. The same day the Ready to Work grant was announced, New Jersey Policy Perspectives released a report that said 46.3 percent of jobless residents in the state had been out of work for more than six months, the second-worst rate in the country.

Sivaraman Anbarasan, executive director of the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development, said the Ready to Work NJ program should roll out at at community colleges at the end of March. The program will provide on-the-job training to about 1,000 long-term unemployed people and provide up to $10,000 in incentives for employers who hire them.

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$10M Grant to Help NJ Colleges Tackle Unemployment

New Jersey county colleges will share a $10 million grant to combat long-term unemployment – a problem that a new study says is worse here than in any other state — as part of a $170 million announcement the White House will make today.

Details on what the colleges proposed in their grant application were not immediately available, but the U.S. Labor Department said all the grants will fund job training and support services for information technology, advanced manufacturing, health care or other industries with openings.

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