May 13, 2013 at 7:06 AM
State workforce-development programs
Invest more in workforce programs
Each year, workforce programs in our state help thousands of laid-off workers and others who are unemployed get better-paying jobs and, in the process, stimulate our economy at a rate that far exceeds the state’s public investment [“Workforce development is not a cure for unemployment,” Opinion, May 6].
So imagine our grave disappointment with the guest column attacking our state and local workforce-development programs. The article’s unsubstantiated claims run counter to the facts.
Participants in workforce programs have higher employment rates and greater earnings than people from similar backgrounds who do not participate. Statewide, the net benefit for the almost 100,000 workforce-training participants in 2012 will exceed $7 billion in the form of higher salaries, reduced social-service costs and more taxes paid.
In the Seattle area, the employment rate for adult workforce program participants was around 78 percent and the cost per participant ranges from $1,500 to $6,500 (nowhere near the $29,000 stated in the article).
Given the proven success rate of these programs and the demand from employers, we should be investing more, not less, in workforce programs.
Tom Peterson, vice-chair, Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, Seattle; Cindy Zehnder, chair, Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board, Olympia
Increase worker demand while protecting environment
I think some readers may have missed the point of Soojin Kim’s guest column on workforce development [“Workforce development is not a cure for unemployment,” Opinion, May 6].
The issue is not whether workforce-development programs are necessary; it is whether workforce development can effectively address the state’s unemployment problem.
Kim rightly observes that we need to increase the demand for workers, first and foremost. That is what will really bring the unemployment rate down and prevent wage stagnation. But how can we increase demand while better protecting our environment?
For one, we could lower payroll taxes (to make it easier for businesses to hire more workers), while gradually increasing pollution taxes (incentivizing businesses to cut their emissions).
Second, we could increase federal and state spending on mass-transit infrastructure, a win-win strategy that would boost employment and lessen a host of environmental problems.
David Kershner, Lummi Island
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