Denver’s workforce development funding — to be nearly abolished under U.S. House of Representatives budget reductions — is important to economic recovery and job creation
Local government and community leaders today urged Congressional leaders to preserve funding for workforce development programs, as it is instrumental to the City’s economic recovery and job creation efforts. Denver Mayor Guillermo (Bill) Vidal, together with business representatives and regional workforce development leaders, voiced support of the benefits of the public workforce system during a media tour of the Denver Workforce Center at Speer, 1391 N. Speer Blvd.
“Federal investments in our workforce development system are simply a necessity in order to improve the economic health of the City, its residents and businesses,” said Mayor Vidal. “These programs are crucial to our community, providing businesses with the skilled workers needed to remain competitive in a global economy.”
A U.S. House of Representatives Fiscal Year 2011 Appropriations bill eliminates all funding for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) state and local employment and training programs. WIA funds provide a significant source of funding for the City’s workforce development programs.
WIA funding has played a major role to the programming offered through the four Denver Workforce Centers throughout the recent recession. Over the past three years, 140,000 Denver residents, including 10,000 veterans, have visited one of the centers seeking employment assistance. With WIA funds, more than 3,000 Denver adults, dislocated workers and youth have received education and training services to prepare them for new careers. Additionally, the WIA system has helped 19,269 Denver residents get back to work since the recession began and has provided job recruitment services to 5,484 Denver employers.
"Without question, federal investments in job training programs are a key component to Colorado, and indeed the nation's, economic recovery," said U.S. Representative Diana DeGette (CO-1). "Yet the new House Leadership has proposed $3.6 billion in cuts to states for job training programs, jeopardizing our recovery and compromising our longer-term ability to compete in the 21st century economy. That's unacceptable and I pledge to continue to fight for the investments, like meaningful job training programs, that will put Denver's families back to work and build a stronger economy for our nation."
On the state level, WIA funding has made an even broader impact. Over the last three years, more than 670,000 individuals, including 61,273 veterans, have sought assistance through the state’s 56 Workforce Centers. Nearly 20,000 Colorado residents have been trained for high-demand occupations with WIA funds, and 263,646 Coloradans have obtained employment through workforce services after seeking assistance through a Workforce Center. WIA programs have helped 18,219 Colorado businesses with employee recruitment.
“A critical component to all economic development efforts is a skilled and productive workforce,” said Joe Barela, president of the Rocky Mountain Workforce Development Association. “To eliminate the funding that ensures our local workers have the training and retraining needed to meet the ever changing demands of the business community jeopardizes our competitiveness and limits the support we can provide to small and large businesses throughout the state.”
Also today, the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) released a new study, forecasting the regional economic impact of the City and County of Denver’s workforce development-related American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. Among its many findings, the study forecasts $27.7 million in earnings impact generated by regional workers by year-end 2011. The publication, 2011 Economic Impact Forecast: An analysis of the return on investment of City and County of Denver workforce stimulus funding, is available online at www.denvergov.org/oed.
“This study affirms that our workforce development federal stimulus funds have resulted in much more than direct job creation,” said John Lucero, OED deputy director. “These investments produce a significant multiplier effect for the regional economy, benefitting businesses through additional sales across numerous industries.”
The non-mandated study was conducted in order to measure the economic impacts of recent stimulus funds on the Denver-Aurora metropolitan statistical area between March 2009, and September 2010. The forecast focuses on quantifiable economic impacts of the $3.6 million in ARRA and Hire Colorado funding awarded to Denver for its adult programs. Among the study’s findings:
- Job Creation: A forecasted minimum of 530 jobs will be created by year-end 2011. This includes 298 direct full-time placements to date and 232 forecasted indirect placements. Forecasted funding per job added to date is $6,811.
- Business Earnings: $27.7 million in earnings impact generated by regional workers is forecasted by year-end 2011. Maximum return on public investment for earnings impact is estimated at $7.68 for each stimulus dollar invested.
- Sales: $71 million effect on sales impact will have been generated by regional businesses by year-end 2011. Maximum return on public investment for sales impact is estimated at $19.79 for each stimulus dollar invested.
“Our federal stimulus programming simply builds upon our success in providing talent development services to businesses and job seekers each year,” said Jeff Fitzgerald, acting director of Workforce Development for the Denver Office of Economic Development. “This positive forecast is reflective of the incredible effort exerted by our staff to connect Denver businesses with access to labor, while assisting residents with skill development and conducting a successful job search.”
The study was based on preliminary placement data supplied by ARRA and Hire Colorado participants. Employment data was used to develop a frequency list of North American Industry Classification System codes, which were applied to an input-output model provided by Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. Based on U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data, the model identified the broad-reaching impact that adding one job in one industry might have on other industries throughout the region.
The study was authored by the Denver Office of Economic Development. Key contributors include the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business, Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc., Denver Workforce Investment Board, Colorado Urban Workforce Alliance and Arapahoe/Douglas Works!