WASHINGTON, DC – With roughly 30 percent of the overall unemployed population in the nation struggling with long-term unemployment and its devastating effects on individuals, families and communities, the Center for American Progress hosted a roundtable to discuss “Strategies to Address Long-Term Unemployment for Older Job Seekers.” The session highlighted the New Start Career Network’s innovative approach to addressing the issue in New Jersey, which houses the third-highest percentage of long-term unemployed citizens in the country. United States Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), a noted advocate for the long-term unemployed, delivered a keynote address.
In addition to remarks from Congresswoman Watson Coleman and from United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Erica Groshen, the gathering featured a panel with the leadership of the New Start Career Network: Carl Van Horn, Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University; and Maria Heidkamp, Director of the New Start Career Network. Lori Strauss, Senior Program Manager for the AARP Foundation’s Back to Work 50+ initiative, also joined the panel, which was moderated by Rachel West, Associate Director of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress.
“Having examined the impact of long-term unemployment and having heard the firsthand accounts of those grappling with the issue, we immediately made a commitment to help establish the New Start Career Network,” said New Start New Jersey Chair and Co-Founder Tammy Murphy. “The tremendous progress achieved by the New Start Career Network in such a brief period offers insights that can help solve this problem throughout the nation.”
Established in October 2015 and managed by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, in collaboration with over 25 private-sector employers, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and a network of volunteer career coaches, the New Start Career Network makes available – free of charge – job search, résumé and interviewing tools; job coaching; and connections to job opportunities. The New Start Career Network is made possible by major funding from the Philip and Tammy Murphy Family Foundation, New Jersey Resources, The Fund for New Jersey, and other private funders.
New Jersey residents age 45 and older who have been unemployed longer than six months are eligible to join the New Start Career Network, which has 1,257 jobseekers as members and 160 trained volunteer coaches.
Earlier this year, Congresswoman Watson Coleman sponsored two pieces of legislation aimed at serving the long-term unemployed: the Investing in Older Americans Act of 2016 (H.R. 4973), which expands the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to include the hiring of older long-term-unemployment recipients; and the Expanding Penalty-Free Withdrawal Act of 2016 (H.R. 4972), which expands the exceptions that permit penalty-free distributions to unemployed individuals from retirement plans.
New Start New Jersey has held five public sessions since its launch in November 2014. The other events include: “A Policy Agenda for Strengthening New Jersey’s Middle Class” with the Center for American Progress in January 2015; “New Jersey’s Advanced Industries: What They Are & Why They Matter” with the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program in April 2015; the launch of the New Start Career Network with the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University in October 2015; “Building Bridges (Roads, Rail & Tunnels) to a Stronger Middle Class: Infrastructure Investments for New Jersey” in March 2016; and the “Latino Policy Forum: Immigration, Education & Employment” in May 2016.