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(Apr 1 2015)   AARP Public Policy Institute Report: "The Long Road Back: Struggling to Find Work after Unemployment" 
 
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(Apr 1 2015)   Senior Administration Officials and Kentucky Governor Announce the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative 
 
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(Apr 1 2015)   HUD Seeks Comment on Proposed Rule on Creating Economic Opportunities for Low- and Very Low-Income Persons and Eligible Businesses through Strengthened "Section 3" Requirements; References Registered Apprenticeship and YouthBuild 
 
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(Apr 1 2015)   NSF Announces Funding Opportunity under the "National Big Data Research and Development Initiative"; Outlines Plans for a Network of Four Regional Innovation Hubs 
 
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(Apr 1 2015)   Benefits of Adult Basic Skills Program Participation: Findings from the Portland State University Longitudinal Study of Adult Learners  
 
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(Apr 1 2015)   Census Bureau and C2ER to Sponsor April 15 Webinar: "Interactive Exploration of Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) Data -- A Case Study in Knowledge Discovery" 
 
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(Apr 1 2015)   C2ER Updates the FY 2016 Proposed State Economic Development Budget Database 
 
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(Apr 1 2015)   IEDC Releases New Volume: "Shifting Workforce Development into High Gear: How Economic Developers Lead Workforce System Alignment" 
 

 

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AARP Public Policy Institute Report: "The Long Road Back: Struggling to Find Work after Unemployment"


The AARP Public Policy Institute has released a new report titled, "The Long Road Back: Struggling to Find Work after Unemployment," which features results from a survey of nearly 2,500 workers ages 45 to 70 who faced unemployment in the past five years.

Although the unemployment rate has been falling, long-term unemployment continues to be a challenge for older jobseekers. The survey report focuses on reemployment and the steps people took to find work. It compares the new jobs of the reemployed with their prior jobs. It also examines the barriers jobseekers faced in trying to find a job, as well as various types of discrimination and other factors that affected the search for work. In addition to releasing the study's findings, the Issues Forum will include a panel of thought leaders who will discuss how best to deal with the problems facing the unemployed and how to better prepare for the next economic downturn. The report was released at a March 30 event at Washington D.C.’s Newseum with the keynote address by the Department of Labor’s Chief Economist, Heidi Schierholz.

Excerpt: Help during the Job Search

Forty-five percent of jobseekers received some type of help during their job search. Assistance with updating or writing a resume was the most common help reported. Emotional support was mentioned by nearly one in five respondents. Help with using online job boards and other online job search websites was mentioned by 19 percent of jobseekers. Assistance with using a computer was mentioned by 12 percent of respondents. Eight percent sought assistance with using LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites. Interestingly, 17 percent of jobseekers did not use a computer to look for work.

Jobseekers who had received help were asked where they got that help. The most common sources of help included family and friends (48 percent), workforce centers/One Stop Job centers (37 percent), and online job-search sites (31 percent). Less common sources of help included career or job coaches (12 percent), libraries (9 percent), educational institutions (6 percent), and job clubs (5 percent).

 

Senior Administration Officials and Kentucky Governor Announce the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative


U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams joined Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Jerry Abramson, Senior Advisor to the President Brian Deese, and Lillian Salerno, Administrator of USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service, in Lexington, Kentuck on March 27, 2015 announce the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) initiative. The Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) will lead the POWER initiative, which is a coordinated effort among multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, using already appropriated funds to make a down payment on the POWER+ Plan (PDF), a suite of proposals in the President’s FY 2016 Budget that invests in coal communities, workers, and technology. The goal of the POWER initiative is to effectively align, leverage and target a range of federal economic and workforce development programs and resources to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector.

"The Obama Administration is committed to supporting our workers and communities as they face challenges related to a changing energy landscape in this country,"? said Assistant Secretary Williams. "EDA is proud to be leading the POWER initiative and we look forward to working with our federal partners to help communities diversify their economies and help workers get the skills they need to adapt to and thrive in this changing economy." "Solving today's workforce challenges means bringing everyone to the same table to invest in infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, and broadband to attract new industries, but it also means strengthening our skills infrastructure to enable communities in Kentucky and around the country to strengthen the skills and talents of those who need a new opportunity,"? said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Portia Wu. "The POWER initiative is an opportunity to bring together the best efforts of federal, state, and local governments and the private and non-profits sectors to help Kentuckians build a better future for themselves, their businesses, and their families,” said Jerry Abramson, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Deputy Assistant to President Obama."

The POWER initiative will award grants competitively on two parallel tracks to partnerships anchored in affected communities. This year roughly $28 to $38 million will be awarded, primarily using EDA and Department of Labor resources, and also using funds from the Small Business Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission. These grants will serve as catalytic funding that will leverage and target additional investments from the private sector and other federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grants will enable communities to organize themselves to respond on behalf of affected workers and businesses, develop a comprehensive strategic plan that charts their economic future, and execute coordinated economic and workforce development activities. These activities will seek to diversify economies, create jobs in new or existing industries, attract new sources of job-creating investment, and provide a range of workforce services and skills training resulting in industry-recognized credentials for high-quality, in-demand jobs.

In addition to the POWER initiative, EDA is collaborating with the National Association of Counties and the National Association of Development Organizations to support the economic diversification efforts of coal country communities through an Innovation Challenge.

 

HUD Seeks Comment on Proposed Rule on Creating Economic Opportunities for Low- and Very Low-Income Persons and Eligible Businesses through Strengthened "Section 3" Requirements; References Registered Apprenticeship and YouthBuild


The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has published a proposed rule regarding section 3 in the March 27 FEDERAL REGISTER for comment. Comments are due by May 26. Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, as amended by the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 (Section 3), contributes to the establishment of stronger, more sustainable communities by ensuring that employment and other economic opportunities generated by Federal financial assistance for housing and community development programs are, to the greatest extent feasible, directed toward low- and very low-income persons, particularly those who are recipients of government assistance for housing.

The purpose of Section 3 is to ensure that employment, training, contracting, and other economic opportunities generated by certain HUD financial assistance shall, to the greatest extent feasible, and consistent with existing Federal, State and local laws and regulations, be directed to low- and very low-income persons, particularly those who are recipients of government assistance for housing, and to businesses that provide economic opportunities to low- and very low-income persons.

HUD is statutorily charged with the authority and responsibility to implement and enforce Section 3. HUD's regulations implementing the requirements of Section 3 have not been updated since 1994. This proposed rule would update HUD's Section 3 regulations to address new programs established since 1994 that are subject to the Section 3 requirements and promote compliance with the requirements of Section 3 by recipients of Section 3 covered financial assistance, while also recognizing barriers to compliance that may exist, and strengthening HUD's oversight of Section 3.

Excerpt:

The proposed rule would add to categories (a) and (b) of the current definition of Section 3 Business the following categories in an effort to increase contracting opportunities for businesses that are owned by residents of public housing and to incentivize contractors to sponsor Section 3 residents to attend Department of Labor (DOL) or DOL-recognized registered apprenticeship programs. HUD would add the following categories to the definition of a Section 3 business: (1) The business meets the definition of a resident-owned business, as set forth in HUD's regulations at 24 CFR 963.5; and (2) the business demonstrates that at least 20 percent of its permanent full-time employees are Section 3 residents and the business either: (i) Sponsored a minimum of 10 percent of its current Section 3 employees to attend a DOL or DOL-recognized, State Apprenticeship Agency-approved, registered apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship training program that meets the requirements outlined in DOL's Employment Training Administration (ETA) Training and Employment Notice 13-12; or (ii) 10 percent of the employees of the business are participants or graduates of a DOL YouthBuild program.
 

NSF Announces Funding Opportunity under the "National Big Data Research and Development Initiative"; Outlines Plans for a Network of Four Regional Innovation Hubs


In March 2012, the Administration announced the National Big Data Research and Development Initiative, which aims to solve some of the Nation's most pressing R&D challenges related to extracting knowledge and insights from large, complex collections of digital data. As part of this initiative, the Administration encouraged multiple stakeholders including federal agencies, private industry, academia, state and local governments, non-profits, and foundations, to develop and participate in Big Data research and innovation projects across the country.

To augment ongoing activities and to ignite new Big Data public-private partnerships across the Nation, the National Science Foundation's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) is seeking to establish a National Network of Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs). Each BD Hub would be a consortium of members from academia, industry, and/or government. This solicitation aims to establish four Hubs across distinct geographic regions of the United States, including the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. Each BD Hub should focus on key Big Data challenges and opportunities for its region of service. The BD Hubs should aim to support the breadth of interested local stakeholders within their respective regions, while members of a BD Hub should strive to achieve common Big Data goals that would not be possible for the independent members to achieve alone.

To foster collaboration among prospective partners within a region, NSF is sponsoring a series of regional, intensive, one-day workshops (called "charrettes"). One charrette will be held in each geographic region to convene stakeholders, explore Big Data challenges, and aid in the establishment of that consortium. For more information on these charrettes, see the following webpage: http://www.usenix.org/BDHubs15. To facilitate discussion among interested parties, a HUBzero community portal has been established at http://bdhub.info. Interested parties may leverage this portal to communicate with members within their region or other stakeholders nationwide.

A March 30, 2015 solicitation is the first of a multi-phase process meant to develop a National Network of BD Hubs. The first phase will set up the governance structure of each BD Hub's consortium of members as well as develop approaches to ensure cross-hub collaboration and sustainability over the long term. The next phase will focus on building out various sectors of particular interest to each BD Hub (e.g., transportation, smart cities, health, energy, public safety, and education) so as to advance sector innovation in that region. The final phases will focus on connecting the BD Hubs and their regional sectors into a national Big Data innovation ecosystem.

This solicitation is part of NSF's Big Data program, which includes: research and infrastructure development; education and workforce development; and multi-disciplinary collaborative teams and communities that address complex science and engineering grand challenges. Before preparing a proposal in response to this or any other Big Data solicitation, applicants are strongly encouraged to review those solicitations and consult with cognizant NSF program officers to determine appropriateness of fit. For example, this solicitation funds the establishment and coordination of a BD Hubs National Network, but is not meant to be a source of funding for new research. By contrast, the BIGDATA solicitation may be more relevant for research funding.

Each BD Hub should focus on key challenges and opportunities in its region of service. Opportunities could include facilitating partnerships on overarching themes (e.g., privacy, data sharing, data stewardship, etc.), providing shared resources to the community (e.g., tools, infrastructure, testbeds, etc.) and/or coalescing around key topical themes (e.g., energy, transportation, healthcare). Potential activities for BD Hubs include, but are not limited to:

  • Accelerating the ideation and development of Big Data solutions to specific regional and/or societal challenges by convening stakeholders across sectors to partner in results-driven programs and projects;
  • Driving successful pilot programs for emerging Big Data technology by acting as a matchmaker between the various academic, industry, and community stakeholders;
  • Engaging stakeholders across the region, based on shared interests and industry sector engagement, to enable dialogue and share best practices, and to set standards for data access, data formats, metadata, etc.;
  • Increasing the speed and volume of technology transfer between universities, public and private research centers and laboratories, large enterprises, and small and medium-sized businesses;
  • Providing data resources of critical importance to the region such as a data steward or public trust service that validates and certifies privacy-sensitive data sets, infrastructure or other testbeds for small scale experimentation, and/or data tools relevant to the analysis needs of stakeholders; and
  • Facilitating engagement with opinion and thought leaders on the societal impact of Big Data technologies as to maximize positive outcomes of adoption while reducing unwanted consequences. Topical examples could include privacy or broadening participation.

 

Benefits of Adult Basic Skills Program Participation: Findings from the Portland State University Longitudinal Study of Adult Learners


From the March 26 Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) newsletter:

OCTAE commissioned Dr. Stephen Reder, professor in the Department of Applied Linguistics at Portland State University, to create five research briefs using that university’s Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning (LSAL) data to examine the long-term impacts of adult basic skills (ABS) program participation on a range of outcome measures. The study was part of the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy, with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute for Literacy. All entities interested in or serving adult learners are encouraged to review each of the briefs in their entirety for a comprehensive discussion of the findings, as well as data graphics, and references. Links to each of them can be found in the summaries below. PDFs for the series may be accessed on LINCS.

Background: National as well as international studies, including the Survey of Adult Skills, demonstrate the need and economic value of ABS. Yet, there is little rigorous research demonstrating that participation in basic skills programs directly impacts the skill levels, educational attainment, or social and economic well-being of adults with low levels of education.

Most research on adult literacy development has only examined the short-term changes occurring as students pass through single ABS programs. Most studies use short follow-up intervals and include only program participants—making it difficult to see the long-term patterns of both program participation and persistence, and the ability to assess the long-term impact of ABS program participation. ABS program evaluation and accountability studies have shown small gains for program participants in test scores and other outcomes, but they rarely include comparison groups of nonparticipants and, studies that do include such controls have not found statistically significant ABS program impact. In short, more research is needed that compares adult literacy development among program participants and nonparticipants across multiple contexts and over significant periods of time. This will provide life-wide and lifelong perspectives on adult literacy development and a better assessment of program impacts on a range of outcome measures.

The LSAL is one study that does address these long-term impacts. Between 1998 and 2007, LSAL randomly sampled and tracked nearly 1,000 high school dropouts’ participation in ABS programs. The study assessed their literacy skills and skill uses over time, along with changes in their social, educational, and economic status, to provide a more comprehensive representation of adult literacy development.

Brief Summaries:

The Impact of ABS Program Participation on Long-Term Economic Outcomes considers the long-term impact of participation in ABS programs on individuals’ earnings. The research results show that individuals who participate in ABS programs have higher future earnings as a result of participating, and their income premiums are larger with more intensive participation. Minimal levels of participation do not produce statistically significant premiums, but 100 hours or more of attendance were found to equate to extra earnings of $9,621 per year, in 2013 dollars.

The Impact of ABS Program Participation on Long-Term Literacy Growth examines the effect of ABS participation on students’ literacy proficiency. The study finds that individuals who participate in at least 100 hours of ABS programs tend to have correspondingly higher levels of literacy proficiency. Their proficiency premiums are larger with more intensive participation. This statistically significant but modest literacy premium (an average of 15 points on a 500 point scale) takes time (on the order of years) to develop after participation. Minimal levels of participation, however, may not produce significant premiums. LSAL’s relatively small sample size limits precise estimates of how many hours of attendance or how long a follow-up period are needed to see a significant literacy dividend of a given size. GED attainment does not seem to mediate the long-term impact of participation on literacy.

The Impact of ABS Program Participation on Long-Term GED Attainment examines the impact of ABS participation on General Educational Development (GED) credential attainment. While student “participation patterns in LSAL were often complex and fragmented—with many adults having multiple episodes of participation at different times and in different programs across the years of the study”—the findings nevertheless demonstrated the robust impact and importance of ABS program participation on GED attainment. The overall GED attainment rate for those whose goal was to obtain a GED is estimated to have risen from 16 percent to 36 percent because of ABS program participation. Although individuals used a variety of methods for GED preparation, including ABS program participation, GED attainment rates for all groups appear to have been elevated substantially by program participation.

The Impact of ABS Program Participation on Long-Term Postsecondary Engagement The study found a robust impact of ABS participation on engagement in postsecondary education at any level of attendance. “The estimated impact of ABS participation on postsecondary engagement appears to be considerably larger in models using more intensive attendance criteria.” These programs are increasing ABS students’ success in the early stages of postsecondary engagement (matriculating into college, receiving credits for college courses). In short, despite methodological limitations, the analyses of the LSAL data show the importance of ABS programs as effective “on-ramps” for this nontraditional student population in supporting postsecondary engagement.

The Long-Term Impact of ABS Program Participation on Voting The study considers ABS program participation that occurred between the 1996 and 2004 general elections, in assessing the impact of participation on changes in voting behavior between the elections. Findings indicated that there was little evidence of an impact of ABS program participation on voting. While the difference-in-differences (DID) analysis shows a larger increase in voting rates over time for program participants, it is not statistically significant. “It is important to note, however, the relatively small subsample size that was available for analysis of the voting data—the corresponding loss of statistical power increases the likelihood of failing to detect an actual impact of participation on voting behavior. LSAL also did not have the ability to validate self-reported voting against administrative records, as was done with self-reported GED attainment and postsecondary engagement. Therefore, it is unknown whether ABS program participation would increase future over reporting compared with the future self-reporting of nonparticipants. Additional research is needed to better determine the impact of program participation, if any, on voting behavior and other measures of civic participation.”

Key Takeaways from the Briefs:

  • Participants in ABS programs experience significant, and, in some cases, substantial increases in long-term educational and economic outcomes.

  • The enhanced outcomes require an average of 100 or more cumulative hours of program attendance.

  • The enhanced outcomes do not typically appear until several years following program participation.

  • The income premiums to ABS program participation average $10,000 per year, in 2013 dollars.

  • The overall GED attainment rate is estimated to have risen from 16 percent to 36 percent because of ABS program participation. ABS programs appeared to be effective “on-ramps” into postsecondary education, but additional supports are likely needed for completion.
 

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Census Bureau and C2ER to Sponsor April 15 Webinar: "Interactive Exploration of Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) Data -- A Case Study in Knowledge Discovery"


The U.S. Census Bureau and the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) Partnership in collaboration with the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) welcomes Saman Amraii. Mr. Amraii shares an interactive visualization tool for analyzing large and complex datasets using Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) data as an example to show how responsive exploration of massive datasets accompanied by novel methods for navigating high-dimensional space can facilitate hypothesis generation.

Saman Amraii is a senior software engineer and researcher at CREATE Lab, Carnegie Mellon University. He is also a PhD student at Intelligent Systems Program, University of Pittsburgh. His research is on human-data interaction with a focus on large and high-dimensional datasets. His goal is to develop visual analytic tools, which facilitate knowledge discovery and knowledge dissemination through interactive exploration of complex data.

The free webinar begins at 1:30 p.m. (Eastern) on April 15.

Registration

 

C2ER Updates the FY 2016 Proposed State Economic Development Budget Database


From a March 26 C23R advisory:

As data from the proposed FY2016 State Budgets are released, C2ER has been updating the C2ER State Economic Development Program Expenditures Database. The proposed budgets provide information on eliminated programs and decreased funding for economic development financing, with many affecting small business development related programs.

For more information and updates, visit the C2ER State Economic Development Program Expenditures Database. Please note that updates will not appear to users until all state updates are complete in June 2015.

 

IEDC Releases New Volume: "Shifting Workforce Development into High Gear: How Economic Developers Lead Workforce System Alignment"


From the IEDC news release:

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) has announced the release of "Shifting Workforce Development into High Gear: How Economic Developers Lead Workforce System Alignment". The report was produced under the auspices of IEDC''s Economic Development Research Partners (EDRP) program that serves as a think-tank within the organization.

For professionals in the field of economic development, effective workforce development is vitally important. IEDC's Chair JoAnn Crary, CEcD, President of Saginaw Future Inc. in Saginaw, MI, notes, "This report offers explanations and solutions to the workforce issue, helping economic developers take a lead role in crafting strategic approaches that will grow a talented workforce to help retain, attract and expand business."

"Shifting Workforce Development into High Gear: How Economic Developers Lead Workforce System Alignment" provides a comprehensive understanding of how workforce development is carried out and how economic developers can shape their role in this important task. The paper provides an overview of the players in workforce development, a survey of economic developers' approach to the issue, five case studies of organizations making an impact, and recommendations for how to best influence workforce development on a regional, state, and local scale.

One of several case studies within the report that exemplifies an effective workforce strategy is the partnership between the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County (WDC) and the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County (EDC). As the leading community organizations concentrated on workforce and economic development for the Seattle region, they have collaborated on several projects, including securing grants through the Washington State Department of Commerce to fund on-site job trainings. These grants, ranging from $100,000 to $200,000, have been a useful business retention and attraction tool for the region. WDC and EDC have also strengthened federal resources to improve their aerospace sector. By working together, the two organizations ensure sustainable business practices for their community and its generations to come.

The report is available from IEDC to nonmembers for $60.00. IEDC members can download the report at no cost at www.iedconline.org