When New Jersey’s labor shortage worsened in the fall, the state created a program designed to help small businesses and encourage workers back into the workforce.
The Return and Earn program, which provides small businesses with up to $10,000 in wage subsidies to hire and train new employees with identifiable skills gaps, and a $500 bonus for these new workers on their first paycheck, has been hailed as an innovative way to stimulate the economy. and get more people back to work. But the program, for unexplained reasons, was a dud.
The $10 million program, paid for with money from the American Rescue Fund, has so far allocated only about $1.4 million for training and paid out $86,000 in bonuses. hiring employees.
Michele Siekerka, President and CEO of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said: “The program is currently woefully underutilized, although we understand that many companies have applied for it, and it appears that it is simply too prescriptive and many companies are not eligible for it.
Something is wrong
She said it has become clear that Return and Earn, which is intended to support businesses with 100 or fewer employees, is not working as it should.
“Any time you have a program that doesn’t seem to be working, you should go back and look at some trends. Why are people not eligible? What causes people to be kicked out of the program and unable to take advantage of it?” she said.
“We would certainly welcome the opportunity to work with them to determine why this program is not working, and/or whether or not a different program is needed.”
NJ Department of Labor considering changes
Department of Labor spokeswoman Angela Delli Santi said: “We are actively considering expanding the pool of eligible employers. Discussions are ongoing on how best to support employers and increase participation. »
You can get more information about the Return and Earn program here.
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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