America’s Job Bank Rescue Effort All but Lost

By Staff Report

Apr. 5, 2007

A last-ditch effort to extend the life of America’s Job Bank seems unlikely to succeed.

Earlier this year, a group of state administrators appealed to congressional leaders to keep the free online job site from shutting down in June. But the group’s executive director doubts Congress will heed the call.

In February, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies sent letters to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. David Obey, D-Wisconsin, asking for continued funding for America’s Job Bank “until a new system is implemented.”

“NASWA believes Congress should provide a ‘line item’ of $6 million for continuing AJB in a supplemental appropriation for another year starting July 1, 2007,” NASWA president Roosevelt Halley wrote in the letter.

But Rich Hobbie, NASWA’s executive director, has little hope at this point. He says the best chance for the additional $6 million was getting the request included in a military appropriations bill. But neither the House nor Senate version of the bill—both of which sparked controversy because of timetables for withdrawing troops from Iraq—include the America’s Job Bank funding, Hobbie says.

“It appears unlikely now,” he says.

Harkin did not immediately return a call requesting comment. An aide to Obey did not return a call seeking comment.

NASWA is a group of state administrators of programs and services provided through publicly funded state workforce systems.

America’s Job Bank dates to 1995, and the free site currently lists more than 2.1 million jobs and nearly 650,000 résumés. Last year, the Labor Department said it planned to phase out America’s Job Bank, arguing that maintaining and improving the site no longer makes sense “given that AJB duplicates what is already available in the private sector.”

But the decision to shutter the site has raised a number of questions, including how companies will meet compliance needs. There’s also concern about possible harm to smaller employers and lower-skilled job seekers.

At least two organizations have announced services intended to replace America’s Job Bank. One is NaviSite, a for-profit company that has operated America’s Job Bank for years as a contractor. Another is the DirectEmployers Association, a nonprofit consortium of companies.

The association’s site, dubbed JobCentral National Labor Exchange, won an endorsement in late March from NASWA. Hobbie said NASWA will play a role in governing the exchange, along with the DirectEmployers Association and participating states.

—Ed Frauenheim

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