California has shut down a highly successful program that put tens of thousands of Californians to work, because Congress failed to extend the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund beyond the September 30 deadline. As of July 2010, counties had used this funding to create jobs for 36,000 low-income Californians who otherwise would have been unemployed, with an estimated 45,000 jobs created by the end of August. California created more subsidized jobs than “any other state in the nation,” according to the Department of Social Services. With the expiration of the TANF Emergency Fund, California has reverted to its prior subsidized job program, which is funded from a more limited pot of state, county, and federal funds. That program created an average of about 1,000 jobs per month in 2008 before the state began using TANF Emergency Fund dollars to substantially expand job placements in 2009. Congress will have an opportunity to revive the TANF Emergency Fund when it reconvenes after the November elections. Doing so would be a “win-win-win” for California’s families, businesses, and local economies coping with the impact of the Great Recession.
— Scott Graves