May 23,2018

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Wyden Proposes New Policy to Bring More Americans into the Workforce, Reduce Barriers to Employment

Draft Legislation Increases Job Training and Employment for Disadvantaged Americans through Public and Private Sector Collaboration

Washington, D.C.  – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today released draft legislation to boost job prospects for the long-term unemployed and other Americans struggling to make ends meet. This proposed policy, called the ELEVATE Act, works to close the workforce gap that is preventing many Americans from getting a job. It provides states with federal funding to design and implement subsidized jobs programs, which help workers access training and supports to achieve and maintain employment.

Recent estimates show there is on average one job opening for every American in need of work. Unfortunately, the supply and demand sides of the labor market are mismatched due to chronic underinvestment in effective workforce development strategies.

“The reality is Americans who are out of work want a job. They want to be able to feed their families, pay the rent and climb the economic ladder,” Wyden said. “Many people are shut out from new job opportunities because they are unable to find necessary work supports like child care or their resumes don’t match the job requirements of positions employers are seeking to fill. My draft ELEVATE Act will bring these workers back into the labor market and allow them to get the jobs they need and deserve.”

“This legislation is precisely what’s needed to help people and places left behind, even as the rest of the job market closes in on full employment,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and former economic advisor to Vice President Joe Biden. “The bill pays particular attention to helping people scale labor market barriers that have longed blocked them.”

“The best anti-poverty strategy is to ensure children’s parents and caregivers who are able to work can find jobs that pay enough to support a family and get the child care and other help they need to remain in those jobs. Increasing the availability of publicly funded jobs as ELEVATE does is a critically important step toward that goal and ending child poverty,” said Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund.

“The ELEVATE Act addresses one of the key labor force challenges facing the U.S. today: how to re-engage millions of Americans who have dropped out of the labor market and often face serious barriers that prevent them from returning,” said Harry Holzer, former Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. “It is a sensible and serious proposal that deserves a serious hearing.”

"If you want an efficient, effective, evidence-based approach to pull people into a job market —no matter where they live— that has shut them out, this proposal is for you,” said Indivar Dutta-Gupta, co-Executive Director at the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality. “In contrast to lavish tax cuts for the wealthy & well-connected, this proposal actually would help workers, their families, and their communities. And we'd all be better off because of it."

The ELEVATE Act (Economic Ladders to End Volatility and Advance Training to Employment) discussion draft would incentivize public and private employers to hire people who are long-term unemployed, have prior criminal records or other barriers to employment.

This is a detailed legislative proposal, but it is not final. It is being circulated to stakeholders, members of Congress, federal officials and others for review and comment with a deadline of June 6. Please submit comments to

A one-page summary of the legislative proposal can be found here. A longer, section-by-section summary can be found here and legislative text can be found here.