The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) awards annual Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA) grants to states and territories providing individual reemployment services for Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants. Reemployment services give workers who might otherwise struggle to find new jobs the tools that they need to get back to work and reduce the number of weeks that UI claimants receive unemployment benefits.
Under current law, however, states can only use their federal grants to assist workers who are “most likely to exhaust their unemployment benefits.” This unnecessary restriction prevents many unemployed workers from getting valuable assistance. As we work to strengthen our economy post-COVID-19, the BRIDGE for Workers Act would remove this restriction and allow states to use their allocated funding to provide support to any individual receiving unemployment benefits, as long as the state believes these services would help them return to work more quickly.
“April's jobs report underscores the need to help Americans get off the sidelines and return to work. The BRIDGE for Workers Act provides more flexibility to the states and gives individuals on unemployment greater access to workforce development tools,” said Rep. LaHood. “I am proud to again join Congresswoman Walorski on this effort that will prepare individuals to return to work and strengthen our labor force.”
“As vaccines get us closer to defeating COVID-19, now is the time to rebuild our economy and reconnect out-of-work Americans with jobs,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The BRIDGE for Workers Act would give states more flexibility to focus on the individual needs of unemployed workers to help them get back into the workforce. By ensuring those receiving jobless benefits are treated like people – and not just numbers on a spreadsheet – we can help them find good jobs more quickly and get our economy back on track.”
These reemployment benefits and workforce development tools include job search assistance, employability assessment, job matching, financial literacy services, and assistance with resume writing and interviewing. When workers are laid off, early access to these services reduces the duration of their unemployment, strengthening both the economic security of working families and the solvency of state unemployment trust funds.
The full text of the legislation can be read here. This legislation was also included as part of the Ways and Means Reopening America by Supporting Workers and Businesses Act of 2021.