Amplifying the Voice of Washington-Area Job-Seekers

Nearly five years after the Great Recession ended, job growth remains sluggish and millions of American workers are still unemployed. Particularly troubling, around 3.5 million Americans have been out of work for six months or more, including an estimated 15,000 workers in DC, 76,000 workers in Maryland, and 84,000 workers in Virginia.

Eric Seleznow - Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Employment and Training Administration, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and Jeff Zients - Director of the National Economic Council and President Obama's Economic Advisor - discuss the challenges of long-term unemployment with workers from DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

Eric Seleznow – Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Employment and Training Administration, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and Jeff Zients – Director of the National Economic Council and President Obama’s Economic Advisor – discuss the challenges of long-term unemployment with workers from DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

On Friday, May 23rd the Community Foundation accompanied six workers from across metropolitan Washington to the White House for a conversation with Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council and President Obama’s Economic Advisor, about the challenges of long-term unemployment. They were joined by additional jobseekers from the McLean Bible Church’s Career Network Ministry and the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation. All of the participants had experienced six months or more of unemployment.

Participating jobseekers were a diverse group, ranging from individuals in their early twenties to late fifties and spanning a variety of backgrounds, including former federal workers, professionals with multiple graduate degrees, several veterans, and an attorney.  They highlighted a number of barriers that have thwarted their job searches, including the difficulty of maintaining security clearances during unemployment spells, age discrimination, constantly evolving skill requirements, and the frustrating “black hole” of online job application systems. Administration officials discussed potential policy solutions and committed to share the participants’ stories with the President and other administration officials.

Six of the participating workers were graduates of education and training programs supported by the Community Foundation, including Montgomery College, the University of the District of Columbia Community College, Northern Virginia Family Service’s Training Futures program, and The Training Source, Inc. in Prince George’s County. Since 2007, these partners and others have partnered with the Community Foundation to help over 1,200 Washington-area workers find work.

Amelia Harris (left) and Sharon Knox (right) were among the local workers who visited the White House last Friday to discuss their experience with long-term unemployment. Ms. Harris and Ms. Knox are both graduates of The Training Source, a Prince George’s County-based workforce development program funded by the Community Foundation and Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative. After completing The Training Source’s Hospitality Express4Success program, Ms. Knox recently secured employment with an international hotel chain.

Amelia Harris (left) and Sharon Knox (right) were among the local workers who visited the White House last Friday to discuss their experience with long-term unemployment. Ms. Harris and Ms. Knox are both graduates of The Training Source, a Prince George’s County-based workforce development program funded by the Community Foundation and Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative. After completing The Training Source’s Hospitality Express4Success program, Ms. Knox recently secured employment with an international hotel chain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take Action