LATIN POST 06/24/15
By Rodrigo Ugarte

Though unemployment had continued to decrease in the last couple of years, it remains an issue among middle and working class people. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) reintroduced legislation to help the unemployed relocate and find employment.

Rep. Cárdenas reintroduced the American Worker Mobility Act on June 12 with the aim of helping unemployed Americans. It would create a program within the Labor Department to allocate funds in the form of vouchers to the long-term unemployed, helping them to move in search of jobs or to accept a position.

The bill makes it easier for people to move from high unemployment areas to other parts of the country where unemployment is lower or certain skills are in demand.

This is the California Democrat’s second attempt at passing this bill, since he introduced it in the last Congress with two Republican co-sponsors, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.). According to a press release provided to Latin Post, the support of Republican legislatures shows Rep. Cárdenas’ “bipartisan spirit.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly report showed U.S. unemployment was down to 5.5 percent. However, certain groups continue to have higher rates and they may benefit from Rep. Cárdenas’ bill. Among them are Latinos, who in May had an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent. Around 1.8 million Latinos are unemployed.

The 2015 version of the bill, like the 2013 bill, grants a maximum of $10,000 to those in need of relocation. To qualify one must have been unemployed for 26 consecutive weeks and must have exhausted all forms of other government aid. As of now, the bill has no cosponsors.

“For several years now, we have seen Americans going back to work by the hundreds of thousands,” Cárdenas in the press release. “However, it’s not enough. To really get our economy moving again, every American who wants a job needs to get hired. We can’t do that without putting more Americans where the jobs actually are. For people who are willing to make the sacrifices that come with moving for a new job, we will make sure they can do just that.”

Organizations like the American Enterprise Institute, the JustJobs Network and the RStreet Institute have expressed support for the bill.

“I think relocation vouchers are a good idea… If the government could help out some of these folks to move – just those who want to, certainly not forcing anyone – you can imagine them having an easier time getting a job,” said Michael Strain, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute.

Similarly, Michael Shank, professor at George Mason University and fellow with JustJobs, said the bill makes American labor agile and mobile, claiming the bill “will be an essential part of how we get America working again.”