3/28/11 - PA House and Senate Leaders Strongly Support SEWN

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees conducted budget hearings last month to determine the effectiveness of state-supported programs administered through the Department of Labor and Industry.

The Senate Labor and Industry hearing took place on Monday, March 28.  The Senators directed several questions to Acting Secretary Beaty regarding the continuation of Workforce Investment Act Funding for the coming fiscal year.

Senator John Blake asked Acting Secretary Beaty about funding for the Strategic Early Warning Network, calling it a critically important Federal program that is funded under the Federal Rapid Response.  He further highlighted the fact that, through SEWN, Pennsylvania saved approximately 3600 jobs in the past five years through early intervention with workers.

Senator John Pippy continued the support for the SEWN program by noting that saving jobs through the SEWN program is much more cost-effective than trying to create jobs or entice new industries into Pennsylvania.

Acting Secretary Beatty agreed with the Senator, adding that, once a person loses a job, it is much more difficult for him to reenter the workforce.  Additionally, mass layoffs adversely affect the company in that the company is not able to rebound as easily if half of their workforce is gone.

Senator Pippy closed his remarks by urging Acting Secretary Beaty to look at the numbers when deciding which programs to fund.  He suggested that the strong numbers SEWN presented regarding the return on investment for its services indicates that the program is well worth funding. (From 2005 to 2010, SEWN has saved 3625 jobs, saving the Commonwealth $18,716,311(1)in Unemployment Compensation and $90,625,000(2) in the cost to create new jobs during that time period)

The House Labor and Industry hearing took place on Wednesday, March 30.  Naturally, many of the questions House leaders asked of the Acting Secretary related to Pennsylvania’s unemployment situation.  However, several leaders used the hearing as an opportunity to voice their support for the Strategic Early Warning Network.

Representative Paul Costa stressed SEWN’s effectiveness at saving jobs and preventing layoffs throughout the Commonwealth.  He stated that, while SEWN is based in his district, he wanted to ensure that the entire Committee heard about the effectiveness of the SEWN program.

Representative Mark Mustio next commented on SEWN, reinforcing the fact that the program is not limited to the Pittsburgh area.  Rather, he indicated that some of the companies in his district have used SEWN with great success.

Representative John Sabatini expressed interest in learning about the SEWN program and its future operations in the Philadelphia area.

Throughout the House Appropriations hearing, Acting Secretary Beaty strongly supported SEWN’s efforts statewide, calling it a very effective program in avoiding and preventing layoffs with small and medium sized manufacturers.  When asked if he would recommend approval for SEWN’s 2011/2012 contract, Acting Secretary Beaty expressed unqualified approval for the contract renewal.

(1)Source: PA Department of Labor and Industry, average weekly payment of $303, average length of payments 20 weeks, adjusted down for lower unemployment in previous years.
(2)Assuming a low-end figure of $25,000 per job.