Layoffs Could Cause Crisis for Unemployed Rhode Islanders

Recently, the DLT has been informed of an unprecedented reduction in workforce. Up to sixty-nine employees are scheduled to lose their jobs on July 28th, 70 percent of these are to come from the Unemployment Insurance sector. The irony of going from working to serve unemployed citizens in their time of need, to being one of those in need of such assistance is not lost on us. This layoff is guaranteed to significantly decrease the department’s ability to provide the necessary level of customer service.

The bottom line is this: Rhode Island’s employment situation is not improving quickly and this mass layoff of frontline workers is going make more acute the pain unemployed Rhode Islanders are already feeling.
At 11% unemployment Rhode Island already has the second highest jobless rate in the country. The Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training provides that assistance with its divisions of Income Support and Workforce Development for the approximately 62,000 Rhode Islanders out of work.

At its current staffing levels, DLT is already it struggling to keep up with the demand for services. I know this because I work as a Senior Employment & Training Interviewer with Unemployment Insurance. I am one of the many representatives that work hard to ensure fair and timely processing of payments within the increasingly complex system of jobless benefits.

The cutback in staff will exponentially delay benefits payments to those facing extreme hardship. It will hold back dollars from flowing into economically starved local economies. Entire specialized sectors of benefits specialists could be eliminated, including but not limited to the already challenged office dedicated to processing military claims. This will lead to extremely long delays in benefits to those men and women in uniform, returning from service. Our veterans have honorably served our country and are owed the highest quality of service the state can provide.

Finally, the State of Rhode Island is a direct reimbursable employer. This means that they are responsible to pay the employees that they lay off dollar for dollar when these employees file for Unemployment Insurance. This burden falls ultimately to the taxpayer. Therefore, Rhode Island’s taxpayers will be on the hook for upwards of one million dollars in benefits paid out to laid off DLT staff to perform no services to Rhode Island citizens. This estimation does not include subsidizing health insurance for the out of work employees and their families. I know, personally, my wife and infant daughter will be forced to seek public assistance to help pay the high costs of staying insured.

Is there a solution? I think so. The state of Rhode Island needs to create a plan to find and allocate funds to maintain appropriate staff levels at the DLT. When a house is on fire one does not take the firefighter’s hose and replace it with a watering can. Rhode Island is our house and it is burning. Rather than reducing the economic stream that can help contain this fire and eventually extinguish the blaze, the state needs to locate the funds and allow them to flow to where the fire burns brightest: the people who need it most.

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Layoffs Could Cause Crisis for Unemployed Rhode Islanders, 1.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

Jonathan Jacobs is a public servant for the State of Rhode Island. He also works as a government relations consultant, specializing in legislative affairs, communications, campaign strategy, and public presentation. Born and raised in Rhode Island, he lives in Rumford with his wife and two, young children.

5 responses to “Layoffs Could Cause Crisis for Unemployed Rhode Islanders”

  1. Thom Cahir

    Don’t forget, with vets returning from overseas after deployments, that sector will now not get the attention they need. it makes no sense to lay them off and pay them when they could stay working and do the job.
    Instead of looking for jobs, the unemployed will now have to stay tethered to phones all day to get answers for questions they may have.
    Gov. Chafee has touted how the DMV has undergone a makeover and become a much more efficient department since he’s taken office. Will he let DLT go the way of the old DMV and become the next state bureaucracy where people go into the system and can’t ever seem to get themselves out?
    Stop this now!

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  2. Dogboy

    YOU LIBERALS just don’t get it do you?

    When you lose your job, it IS A CRISIS! 

    The government DOSEN’T CREATE JOBS. It impedes them.  And RI is the champion of this. 

    Where do jobs come from?  When entrepreneurs and investors get together and start a business, they hire people.  They create something.  A service or a product. 

    When the government expands they KILL JOBS usually.  They create bureaucracy who make more rules and penalties for infractions of those rules.  This forces people out of state.  Out of the country. 

    Look around.  When Republicans ran the state we were FIRST in job creation.  RI was home to scores of industries and we actually invented and developed things here.  The Wright Brothers came to RI during this time to help develop the airplane (for instance).  (The RI Aviation Hall of Fame will verify). 

    Where are we now?  We’re WORST in job creation.  Even the Illegal Aliens are leaving our state. 

    Stop voting democRAT.

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    1. Portsmouth Citizen

      My Dad spent a lifetime raising his family and putting his kids through college working at his GOVERNMENT CREATED JOB at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center and later at Raytheon (where 100% of his salary was from GOVERNMENT CREATED contracts). So I guess he would be very surprised to learn that he never actually worked a job, because you know… the government doesn’t create jobs.

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    2. PinkHatLib

      “The government DOSEN’T CREATE JOBS.”

      Posted without irony on the Internet, which of course had nothing to do with the government. Rush said it. Must be true!

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  3. Dogboy

    11% UNEMPLOYMENT?  That’s BULL.

    They don’t count those of us who CAN’T COLLECT UNEMPLOYMENT ANY MORE. 

    They don’t count those of us who MOW LAWNS AND PAINT HOUSES (with college degrees and years of experience in businesses).

    They fudge the numbers.  You can’t trust the numbers.  They’re OK with lying to us about this very important fact.

    What ELSE are they lying to us about??? 

    STOP voting democRAT.

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