Temporary Means Temporary
While watching the 11 pm news tonight on Channel 10, I saw a story about the 67 former employees of the Department of Labor and Training (DLT) protesting their layoff.
I get it, layoffs are bad, I wish everyone who wants a job could be employed. I also get what they’re saying about the irony of them being laid off because they were the ones who helped the unemployed receive benefits and search for a new job. Rhode Island has such a high unemployment rate that this probably isn’t the department that we should be cutting. So why aren’t we keeping these people on staff?
Department spokeswoman Laura Hart said most of the positions were always expected to be temporary because they were funded by now-exhausted federal stimulus dollars.
Isn’t this exactly what some were asking when the federal stimulus money became available? What happens when that money dries up? No one ever gave a straight answer there. Well now we all know what some suspected. When the money is gone, the jobs are gone. Why is this hard to understand? Also, when you take a job on a temporary basis, you go into it knowing there’s a likelihood that you will be laid off at the end of that temporary period. I see jobs listed all the time for a “10 month contract” or something similar. When that ten months is up, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be unemployed again.
It might be interesting to see what has happened to every position in the state that was hired with temporary stimulus money. Are they still employed? Is the federal government still picking up the tab or did it switch over to being state-funded?
Along the same lines, this was a tough call for some governors. A few, including Bobby Jindal in Louisiana refused the stimulus money for unemployment benefits because he also saw this sort of situation coming and knew it would simply add to his state’s burden.
“The federal money in this bill will run out in less than three years for this benefit and our businesses would then be stuck paying the bill,” Jindal said. “We must be careful and thoughtful as we examine all the strings attached to the funding in this package. We cannot grow government in an unsustainable way.”
And some in Rhode Island wonder why we’re ranked last in so many economic rankings? If an organization decides to rank states based on unsustainability, I’d expect Rhode Island to finally show up right near the top.