NASWA Bulletin - December 12, 2014

Dec 12, 2014

  Download Document (PDF)


In This Issue:

House Approves Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015

On Thursday, December 11th, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed H.R. 83, The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015.  This $1.1 trillion spending package would fund most government operations for the remainder of fiscal year 2015, including the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL).  It also includes several policy changes important to state workforce agencies.

The legislation was passed by a vote of 219 to 206, with 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats voting in favor.   Since funding for the federal government technically ended at midnight on December 11, the House and Senate passed a two-day continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown and keep the federal government operating.

The Senate is debating the measure today and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) hoped to secure passage by Saturday.  While there is some opposition in the Senate, it has bipartisan support.  Both the current Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and the in-coming Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, (in January) Thad Cochran (R-MS), urged their Senate colleagues to support the measure.

Further, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy yesterday, supporting passage of the legislation. 

NASWA has provided the following documents

  1. The USDOL legislative language extracted from the Omnibus Appropriations Act, H.R. 83.
  2. The explanatory statement – known as the committee report for the USDOL portion of the bill.  This is written by the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations and includes guidance and instructions to USDOL, including the following:
    • An annual report on the status of unemployment insurance information technology consortia and an analysis of each project’s progress. 
    • An oversight program, conducted by the USDOL Office of Inspector General (OIG) on States’ efforts to identify and recover UI overpayments.
  3. Budget Tables, prepared by the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations for USDOL activities. (This is a very helpful table as it identifies which funds are discretionary, mandatory and advance funding.)
  4. Easy to read budget table, prepared by NASWA, covering major USDOL activities affecting workforce. This chart is also available on NASWA’s website, click here.
  5. An easy to read budget table, prepared by NASWA, covering major USDOL activities affecting workforce.  This chart is also available on NASWA’s website,  click here.

USDOL Funding: Overview

The agreement provides $13.3 billion for USDOL, including $7.7 billion in direct appropriations for FY 2015 and $4.0 billion from trust funds, primarily for black-lung benefits and the operating costs associated with the unemployment insurance program. The total includes $1.8 billion in advance appropriations for FY 2016.

  • There is a 1.4 percent increase for each of the WIA formula programs for Adult, Youth and Dislocated Workers.  
  • There is no funding for the Administration’s Workforce Innovation Fund.
  • Overall funding for Unemployment Insurance State Administration was reduced by 3.6 percent compared to fiscal year 2014.  (This is due to declining workload) 

The legislation also includes the following provisions of interest to state workforce agencies:

UI Consortium Language: 

Includes retroactive language (to fiscal year 2011) providing consortium states with an additional year to spend their Unemployment Insurance Information Technology Modernization grants.

State Set-Aside: 

The 15 percent State set-aside was increased from the current 8.75 percent to 10.0 percent.  With the recent passage of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) reaffirming the 15 percent set-aside, NASWA and the National Governors Association believe there is an opportunity to secure the full 15 percent for Program Year 2015 with the new Congress in January. 

Trade Adjustment Assistance: 

The bill also provides funding for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Workers program to allow for the full operation of the program throughout fiscal year 2015, including the provision of benefits to groups of workers certified after December 31, 2014.  Although it appeared the program would shut down on December 31, 2014, the appropriation of funds for fiscal year 2015 will ensure the TAA program remains in operation.

Specific Details on USDOL Funding Levels

  1. Training & Employment Services
    • Provides $2.6 billion, $36 million more than both FY 2014 for Workforce Investment Act grants to states, for Adult, Youth, and Dislocated Worker employment and training activities.  ($776.7 million for Adult; $831.8 million for Youth; $1 billion for Dislocated Workers).
    • Provides $262.4 million for the State Set-Aside; an additional $36 million compared to fiscal year 2014.
  2. Federally Administered Programs
    • Provides $220.8 million for Dislocated Workers Assistance National Reserve.
    • Provides $46 million for Native American Programs.
    • Provides $81.8 million for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers programs.
    • Provides $79.6 million for YouthBuild activities.
    • Provides $4 million for the Workforce Data Quality Initiative.
  3. National Activities
    • Provides $82 million for Ex-Offender Activities.
    • Provides $4 million for the Workforce Data Quality Initiative.
  4. Other Activities
    • Provides $710.6 million for Trade Adjustment Assistance, including benefit payments, allowances, training employment and case management services, and related State administration.
    • Provides $1.6 billion for the Jobs Corps Program.
  5. Unemployment Compensation
    • Provides $2.7 billion for state operations of unemployment insurance programs; almost $44 million less than fiscal year 2014.
    • Provides $80 million for in-person reemployment and eligibility assessments.
    • Provides $12.8 million for National Activities.
  6. Employment Service
    • Provides $664 million for state employment services programs and activities.
    • Provides $19.8 million for National Activities, including the administration of the work opportunity tax credit.
    • Provides $62.3 million for Foreign Labor Certifications.
    • Provides $60.1 million for Workforce Information, National Electronic Tools, and One-Stop System building under the Wagner-Peyser Act – known as One Stop/LMI.
  7. Bureau of Labor Statistics
    • Provides $65 million in state grants for the Cooperative Statistics Program from the Employment Security Administration account in the Unemployment Trust Fund.
  8. Veterans Employment and Training Service
    • Provides $175 million for Jobs for Veterans State grants.
    • Provides $14 million for Transition Assistance Program.
    • Provides $39.4 million for Federal Administration.
    • Provides $3.4 million for the National Veterans’ Employment and Training Services Institute.
    • Provides 38.1 million for Homeless Veterans.

NASWA Budget Table:

The table in the PDF version provides a snapshot of the major USDOL programs and compares funding levels for FY 2014 compared to the House passed bill for FY 2015.

Return to Top

Senator Patty Murray Seeking Ranking Member on Senate HELP

When the new Congress convenes in January, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced today her intention to serve as Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.  Senator Murray served as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee this past Congress and will continue to serve as a senior member of that Committee.

Senator Murray has served on the HELP committee for many years and was one of the key authors of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).   In her statement, Senator Murray said, “I plan to work with incoming-Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure that our country is doing everything possible to create jobs and economic growth that benefits all families, not just the wealthiest few.

In January the Republicans will hold a 54-46 majority in the Senate for the new 114th Congress.  The newspaper Politico reported today that Senate Democrats are poised to lose one to two seats on each of the chamber’s committees.  Click here to read the Politico article. 

Return to Top

Notices, Advisories and Reports

USDOL Directives & Releases

December 11, 2014: ETA issued Training and Employment Notice No. 15-14  reiterating State Workforce Agencies' (SWA) responsibility to provide the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs OFCCP with information regarding whether Federal contractors are in compliance with the mandatory job listing requirements of the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended, at no cost to OFCCP. 

December 1, 2014: ETA released Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 14-14  advising State Workforce Agencies or agencies designated by Governors as Cooperating State Agencies (CSAs or States) that the authorization of appropriations for the TAA program expires on December 31, 2014, and termination provisions will take effect beginning on January 1, 2015, absent congressional action. (Further guidance is expected with passage of The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 .)

December 1, 2014: ETA issued Training and Employment Notice No. 14-14  announcing the availability of a new online tool that enables state workforce agencies to communicate with the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Integrity Center of Excellence (Center) about integrity activities, share successful integrity practices, and rapidly disseminate information about current and emerging fraud schemes.

November 25, 2014: USDOL released a notice in the Federal Register soliciting comments concerning the collection of data about quality pre-apprenticeship programs that prepare qualified entrants for registered apprenticeships and contribute to the development of a diverse and skilled workforce.

November 18, 2014: ETA released Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 4-15  providing guidance to state unemployment insurance (UI) agencies on disclosure of confidential unemployment compensation (UC) information to health insurance exchanges for purposes of implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Bureau of Labor Statistic Reports

December 9, 2014: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary for the month of October, 2014.  There were 4.8 million job openings on the last business day of October, little changed from 4.7 million in September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Hires (5.1 million) and separations (4.8 million) were steady in October. Within separations, the quits rate (1.9 percent) was little changed and the layoffs and discharges rate (1.2 percent) was unchanged. This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the nonfarm sector by industry and by four geographic regions.

December 9, 2014: BLS released the Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment Summary for the month of October, 2014.  Unemployment rates were lower in October than a year earlier in 354 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 14 areas, and unchanged in 4 areas, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Eight areas had jobless rates of at least 10.0 percent and 144 areas had rates of less than 5.0 percent. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 318 metropolitan areas, decreased in 46 areas, and was unchanged in 8 areas. The national unemployment rate in October was 5.5 percent, not seasonally adjusted, down from 7.0 percent a year earlier.

December 5, 2014:  BLS released the Employment Situation Summary for the month of November, 2014.  Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 321,000 in November, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Job gains were widespread, led by growth in professional and business services, retail trade, health care, and manufacturing.

BLS Report: Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2013:  This report presents data highlights and statistical tables of earnings data for women in 2013.  In 2013, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median usual weekly earnings of $706. On average in 2013, women made 82 percent of the median weekly earnings of male full-time wage and salary workers ($860).

Other Announcements

President Launches Competitive Grant Competition for Apprenticeships
Yesterday President Obama, in conjunction with the Department of Labor, launched a competitive grant program - the American Apprenticeship Grants - which will provide more than $100 million of HB-1 visa funds to support 25 grants for interested stakeholders, including state and local governments. Specifically, the apprenticeship program will focus on three core principles: support innovative apprenticeship models in new, high-growth fields such as health care or advanced manufacturing; ensure apprenticeship programs provide a pathway for career advancement; and identify and scale out apprenticeship models that work. Applications will be accepted until April 30, 2015. For more information on how to apply, please click here.

President Announces Availability of Competitive Funding to Support Manufacturing
Yesterday President Obama announced the availability of competitive funding for interested stakeholders, including states, to support the development of two new public-private manufacturing innovation institutes. The first institute, sponsored by the Department of Defense (DoD), would leverage $75 million in federal funding with at least $75 million in private funds to support the development of flexible hybrid electronics (structural integrity sensors for aircrafts or intelligent bandages that can alert soldiers to signs of injury or exhaustion). The second institute, sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE), would provide $70 million in competitive federal funding, with an equivalent match from the private sector, to support the advancement of new smart manufacturing technologies (process control sensors). Although the DoD sponsored institute will release a formal solicitation in approximately 45 to 60 days, states that are interested in the DOE-sponsored institute can click here for the notice of intent. Going forward, states that are interested in applying for the institutes are advised to monitor, where updates will be posted as they are made available. To access a White House fact sheet on the funding opportunity, please click here.
State Guidance on Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act Detailed
The National Skills Coalition released a report offering guidance to states on the integrated workforce plans required by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  The report recommends offering stakeholders (including policymakers, business leaders, and employees) opportunities to offer feedback early on in the planning process.  Additionally, the report recommends defining the necessary criteria for forming local or regional partnerships and how funding will be allocated, as well as how various programs will collaborate in offering services and sharing data and measuring outcomes.

CRS Report - Adult Education and Family Literacy Act: Major Statutory Provisions
The CRS released a report discussing Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) as amended by Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA). AEFLA is the primary federal legislation that supports basic education for out-of-school adults.

Return to Top

Articles were contributed by by Marc Katz, Hillary Hewko, Kevin Naud, and Jim Van Erden.