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Area workforce training agencies get millions in federal stimulus money

Area workforce training agencies get millions in federal stimulus money

The Capital Region has received more than $6 million in federal stimulus money to provide employment

The Capital Region, which is seeing its highest unemployment rate since statistics were kept, has received more than $6 million in federal stimulus money to provide employment training for those affected by the recession, a local official said.

The Capital Region Workforce Investment Area will receive $3 million, said spokesman Daniel Gentile; the Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie WIA will get $1.4 million; and the Saratoga, Warren and Washington WIA will get $1.3 million.

Gentile said the federal money has approximately doubled the allocation each WIA receives annually for employment programs. There are 33 WIAs in the state.

The WIAs will administer the federal money through one-stop centers in each county. One-stop centers offer employment education, training services and a network of local, state and national resources for job-seekers and employers.

The one-stop center in Schenectady County is at 797 Broadway. In Albany, it is at 175 Central Ave. It is in the Rensselaer County Office Building in Rensselaer County. The Albany County one-stop center saw more than 18,000 people last year, Gentile said.

The federal money will allow the centers to reach more adults, youths and dislocated workers, Gentile said.

Adults are workers earning the minimum wage, or not working for reasons other than a layoff. Dislocated workers are those who have been laid off.

For youths, the federal stimulus money will allow the centers to extend services to people up to the age of 24.

The usual eligibility cutoff is age 21, Gentile said. "All the youths have to be economically disadvantaged and have to have some barrier to employment, such as low reading and math skills."

Gentile said the Capital Region Workforce Investment Board will meet this week to decide whether to use stimulus money to increase the tuition reimbursement cap on retraining.

The current cap is $3,000; the proposal is to raise the cap to $5,000.

Unemployment in the Capital Region hit a record high in February, with nearly 35,000 people out of work due to the recession, according to the state Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan area was 7.6 percent in February, an increase of 0.5 percentage points from January and 2.1 percentage points from February 2008.

Last February, 23,500 people were out of work in the area.

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