Jobs now, unemployment later 

A successful unemployment program in The City is on the brink of extinction after the U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved a watered-down unemployment benefits bill that didn’t include extending money for Jobs Now.

The program, which has employed more than 3,600 residents, has been the cornerstone of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s economic stimulus strategy, using millions of dollars in federal funds to match unemployed workers with local businesses. The federal dollars cover 100 percent of employee wages.

Jobs Now funding, which is set to expire Sept. 30, was removed from the larger employment bill in order to garner Republican support for extending basic unemployment benefits. 

After Tuesday’s vote, Trent Rhorer, director of The City’s Human Services Agency, received a brief message from one of San Francisco’s lobbyists, saying the effort to extend the program was “dead for now.” But city officials are planning to appeal to legislators after Congress returns from recess in August, hoping to find a way to extend Jobs Now through next year.

“Because it expired at the end of September, the quicker avenue is to attach it to an existing legislative vehicle,” Rhorer said. “We are working with lobbyists and Nancy Pelosi’s staff to figure out the best way to go about it.”

There has been a growing attention around Jobs Now, as unemployment in San Francisco still hovers around 10 percent.

Last week, Pelosi visited the Mission Neighborhood Centers, which helps provide services for low-income families. It hired 29 people through Jobs Now, but it’s likely going to have to fire those same workers if the program isn’t extended another six months, said Barbara Walden, an executive assistant who was hired in October through Jobs Now.

To drive home the point, Newsom is planning to host a public event Thursday at City Hall to talk with current Jobs Now employees and employers about the looming deadline for the program.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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