Baker Seeks $5M In Funds For Populations Struggling With Joblesssness

Gov. Charlie Baker, left, walks into the House Chamber to deliver his State of the State address on Thursday. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
Gov. Charlie Baker, left, walks into the House Chamber to deliver his State of the State address on Thursday. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

In its budget proposal this week, the Baker administration will propose a $5 million investment seeking to aid populations throughout Massachusetts that face chronically high levels of unemployment.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, the funds would go to community groups “that partner with businesses to develop job training and employment opportunities for populations that face higher unemployment rates,” including African-Americans, Hispanics, persons with disabilities, Native Americans and recently returned U.S. veterans

“Whatever their barriers, we realize certain people need a hands-on touch when it comes to job seeking and more attention than the federally-funded career centers are able to give them,” Ronald Walker II, the state secretary of labor and workforce development, said in the statement.

The Massachusetts unemployment rate is currently 4.7 percent, which is  below the national level of 5 percent. But the state’s overall jobless rate masks discrepancies among various demographic groups and regions.

Worried that too many people are getting left behind as Massachusetts’ economy continues to grow, Gov. Charlie Baker in 2015 created a task force to focus on pockets of high unemployment. Monday’s budget proposal is the result of that task force, which is chaired by Walker.

Also in 2015, Baker established a similar task force, on bridging the state’s so-called workforce skills gap.

Baker is set to unveil his complete budget proposal on Wednesday. The House and Senate will then release their respective spending plans.

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