June 26, 2014 at 1:00 am

$6.2M in fed training aid targets Michigan jobless rate

Washington — Michigan is among 14 states that will get nearly $6.2 million in new federal grants to expand job training — aimed at helping the state’s long-term unemployed find work.

The U.S. Labor Department said it is awarding $154.8 million to 32 states, Puerto Rico and the Cherokee tribal nation through the Job-Driven National Emergency Grant program, with funds used to train workers who lost a job through no fault of their own in high-demand industries. Of those states, 14 are getting about or nearly the maximum award of $6.2 million — after states competed for the funds.

“The grants announced today (Wednesday) will help build partnerships between industry, labor and communities to help more Americans learn about job openings, identify what skills are needed to fill them, and train and apply for the good-paying jobs that are out there in health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing and other high-growth industries,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement.

The Labor Department said it didn’t know how many workers would get training but said states will have to keep tabs on how successful workers are in finding jobs after getting training.

“We are investing in proven strategies that connect ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs. This year, we will release roughly $1 billion in targeted, job-driven training funds,” said Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez. “We know that job-driven training programs work, and that they’re often the best way to provide real ladders of opportunity. Today’s awards will help states establish or expand programs that can change peoples’ lives.”

Michigan’s unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percent in May to 7.5 percent, above the 6.3 percent national average, but down sharply from the 8.9 percent unemployment rate of May 2013.

Michigan has the nation’s 6th highest unemployment rate, tied with the District of Columbia and Illinois. Some of the Michigan funds will go toward online job training efforts.