MURPHY LEADS EFFORTS TO SECURE ROBUST FUNDING FOR JOB TRAINING FOR OLDER AMERICANS

In 2017, the critical program provided job training to more than 400 Connecticut seniors

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, led a group of 26 senators in calling for at least $400 million of federal funding for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) – the only federal community service and work-based job training program for low-income or unemployed older Americans. In a letter to Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Murphy and the other senators emphasized the critical role SCSEP plays in helping seniors update their skills, save for retirement, and contribute to their communities. The senators warned that cuts to the program would be detrimental to older Americans.

In 2017, Connecticut’s SCSEP program helped more than 400 seniors earn a paycheck.

“SCSEP is the only federal employment program dedicated to helping older Americans return to the workforce. Through the program, low-income older job seekers from every state learn new work skills and contribute to their communities through paid community training at schools, hospitals, senior centers and other non-profit or public facilities. Last year, about 60,000 older Americans with significant barriers to employment trained at community employers and earned paychecks through SCSEP,” wrote the senators. “The need for SCSEP remains critical as it takes unemployed older adults, on average, twice as long to return to the workforce as their younger counterparts, and even longer for most-in-need older adults with low employment prospects. … Please help to ensure job training for older workers continues by robustly funding the Senior Community Service Employment Program in FY 2019.” 

The following senators joined U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) in sending the letter: U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calf.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Angus King (I-Maine), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

The full text of letter is available online and below:

The Honorable Roy Blunt
Chairman
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Patty Murray
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray:

As you prepare your appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2019, we ask that you fund the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) at the U.S. Department of Labor at least at the FY 2018 level of $400,000,000.

Authorized most recently in 2016 through the bipartisan Older Americans Act, SCSEP is the only federal employment program dedicated to helping older Americans return to the workforce. Through the program, low-income older job seekers from every state learn new work skills and contribute to their communities through paid community training at schools, hospitals, senior centers and other non-profit or public facilities. Last year, about 60,000 older Americans with significant barriers to employment trained at community employers and earned paychecks through SCSEP.

SCSEP is meeting the goals established by Congress: to promote individual economic self-sufficiency and to increase unsubsidized employment of unemployed older Americans, age 55 and older. Every older adult who participates in SCSEP increases their individual economic self-sufficiency through the regular paychecks they earn during their training assignments. In addition, about half of SCSEP participants enter into unsubsidized employment after exiting the program. This high rate of success is despite the fact that SCSEP serves the most-in-need seniors, including those with low employment prospects (91% of all SCSEP participants), many of whom  are homeless or at-risk of homelessness (55%), who have disabilities (21%), or who reside in rural areas (27%) or areas of persistent unemployment (17%). SCSEP participants who exit for employment earn more in their first year than the annual SCSEP training costs, resulting in a strong return on the federal investment, according to a 2017 Urban Institute study. 

The need for SCSEP remains critical as it takes unemployed older adults, on average, twice as long to return to the workforce as their younger counterparts, and even longer for most-in-need older adults with low employment prospects. A recent U.S. Senate Aging Committee report found that age discrimination, inadequate training opportunities, and other factors make it more difficult for older workers to find jobs and thrive in the workplace. Coupled with a looming retirement savings crisis, where a roughly one-third of workers do not have access to a retirement plan at work and the majority of older Americans do not have nearly enough savings, it is crucial that we continue to invest in this vital program 

Please help to ensure job training for older workers continues by robustly funding the Senior Community Service Employment Program in FY 2019.

Sincerely,

Chris Murphy
Dick Durbin
Tammy Baldwin
Richard Blumenthal
Sherrod Brown
Dianne Feinstein
Bob Casey
Chris Coons
Tina Smith
Kirsten Gillibrand
Tim Kaine
Gary Peters
Brian Schatz
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren
Bob Menendez
Maggie Hassan
Tammy Duckworth
Jeanne Shaheen
Chris Van Hollen
Ron Wyden
Jeff Merkley
Angus King
Mazie Hirono
Cory Booker
Ed Markey

###