Third Stimulus Package Is Insufficient, We Need a Fourth to Address Urgent Workforce Needs

By Ayobami Olugbemiga, March 26, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Katie Onachila-Spiker, director of government relations at National Skills Coalition, released the following statement in response to the third stimulus package:

We’re glad to see that lawmakers came together in a bipartisan way to pass a third stimulus bill, which expands unemployment insurance, provides access to loans for businesses – and nonprofits – to cover payroll costs during the economic downturn, and offers additional federal support through work sharing to help businesses avert layoffs. But what’s been missing in the federal response to the crisis is a comprehensive workforce strategy to address the immediate shortages in industries that are needed to respond to the pandemic, while also preparing for our economic recovery afterwards.

Industries like healthcare, logistics, and manufacturing are essential to responding to COVID-19. Sadly these are the same industries that have long faced worker shortages because policymakers haven’t done enough to expand access to the training and support services that workers need to get these jobs and succeed in them. We’re living through the consequences of that now – there aren’t enough trained workers to build new ventilators. Our hospitals are overwhelmed and overburdened because we don’t have enough health workers. Not to mention our first responders who don’t have enough support to meet the demand of this crisis.

The demand for reemployment, skilling and reskilling services will increase substantially during this crisis and its aftermath. That’s why a fourth stimulus package is desperately needed quickly and must include a massive influx of funding into our workforce system.

In the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA), Congress rightly recognized the importance of increased funding for our workforce system to respond to an economic crisis. ARRA investments nearly doubled federal funding for the workforce system that year, giving states and local areas the necessary resources to rapidly respond to worker needs and business demands. Increasing funding for the workforce system today is even more vital than it was a decade ago given the global impact of the pandemic and lowered levels of economic security across the country.

Lawmakers must act, and act quickly on another round of stimulus relief that builds on the historic precedent for workforce investment so that we can ensure the best outcomes for workers, businesses and communities across the country.

Related resources: 

Analysis: Third Stimulus Lacks Comprehensive Strategy to Respond to Urgent Workforce Needs Today” by Katie Onachila-Spiker and Katie Brown