Older workers have high hopes for stimulus

February 12, 2009 5:02:57 PM PST
A final vote is expected on President Obama's $789 billion plan to stimulate the country's economy. The package is expected to include more money to train older workers who are looking for jobs.

Some older workers who had been working for years are finding new employment difficult. This group of the workforce is expected to make up $76 million by 2030.

A program designed to help them may get a boost from the stimulus package and ultimately help those workers contribute to our economic recovery.

Joyce Hyshaw is an experienced worker. She is among a growing number of over 55 workers who is out of work.

"It can be difficult if you give up. You can't give up," said Hyshaw.

Hyshaw is participating in the Senior Community Service Employment Program or CSEP for short. It is a federal program that offers paid job training and counseling to low income workers over 55. The program is administered locally by National Able Network.

On Thursday there was word from Washington that the stimulus package will include $140 million more for the program.

"People that had no income now have income and can go out and buy things," said Gayle Gamauf McCoy, National Able Network.

Other benefits believed to be in the stimulus package:

- An additional 20 more weeks of unemployment benefits
- A 60 percent subsidy for Cobra health benefits which is the program many who are unemployed use for health insurance
- Social security recipients would receive a one-time payment of $250
- $87 billion to help states pay for Medicaid
- $8 billion to construct high-speed rail lines
- $150 billion for infrastructure like repairing the nation's aging highways and bridges

The Federal Highway Administration estimates every $1 billion spent on infrastructure translates into 35,000 jobs.

"In my book, infrastructure spending probably gives you the biggest bang for your buck. Long term, the down side is it doesn't happen very quickly. There aren't that many shovel-ready projects. You're going to be lucky if those projects start by the end of 2009," said Rebel Cole, professor of finance and real estate, DePaul University.

Also believed to be in the stimulus are tax credits:

- $7500 for a plug-in hybrid car
- $8000 for first-time home buyers if they buy before August
- $400 credit for 95 percent of workers which breaks down to about $13 per week more starting in June and goes down to $8 a week next January.

Professor Cole is interested to see what the package will mean for states like Illinois hard hit by the recession.

"Things are still very up in the air. I don't think we're really going to know what we really have until Friday. There is a lot of horse trading going on there," said Cole.

The CSEP program for older workers helps 4,000 Illinoisans each year. With more funding, they hope to help more people. Seventy five percent of their funding goes directly to participants. Those who qualify get paid while they're training and they can take part for up to four years.

For more information about the Senior Community Service Employment Program and the National Able Network, please visit: http://www.nationalable.org/Job-Seekers/Able-Senior-Services-JobSeekers.html.