Applaud the Obama Administration for Supporting Work Sharing Programs

Target: US Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis

Goal: Applaud Obama Administration for issuing federal grant for state work sharing programs

Work sharing is a form of unemployment benefit that provides employers with an alternative to laying off workers in times of temporary business decline. Instead of laying off employees, the employer reduces the hours and wages of all or of certain workers. These workers are then eligible for partial unemployment benefits to supplement the gap in their income.

Work sharing  programs are good for employers because they allow for a temporary reduction in pay-roll costs, for the retention of skilled workers, for and the avoidance of future hiring and training costs. They are good for workers because they allow for them to maintain their job, their income, their health and retirement benefits.

The programs are financed through state unemployment insurance trust funds that are paid back through employer unemployment taxes and through federal reimbursement. Work sharing programs are voluntary for employers to participate in based on their particular circumstances and are currently (as of January 2012) implemented in 23 states and in the District of Columbia.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of nearly $100 million in grants to states that either implement a work sharing program or improve their already-existing program. A significant portion of this grant (about 2/3) goes to outreach and promotion of work sharing programs to employers.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research estimates that the states that choose to take advantage of this funding could save up to $1.7 billion a year for up to three years as well as reduce their unemployment rates. Rhode Island (which has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation at 10.8%) has used work sharing to prevent more than 15,000 layoffs since 2007, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

The expansion and further implementation of work sharing programs will prevent countless layoffs, reduce U.S. unemployment, and save money for employers that choose to implement the program. Applaud the Obama Administration for supporting work sharing programs.


Dear Madame Secretary Hilda Solis,

I am writing this letter to applaud your Department’s recent announcement of nearly $100 million in available federal grants to states for work sharing programs. This is a major domestic policy accomplishment for the Obama administration and for the well-being of the U.S. as a whole.

If states choose to accept these funds, employers will have the opportunity to participate in a program that has showed massive success in European countries (most notably Germany) and that provides an avenue towards unemployment reduction that saves the employers money as well. As you put it yourself, a “win-win” situation.

Work sharing is a progressive alternative to lay offs and I am pleased to see this policy both supported and implemented by the Obama Administration. Thank you for supporting work sharing programs for American workers.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Department of Labor blog

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One Comment

  1. Work sharing is not used much in the US because it is perceived as “welfare for businesses”. This is inevitable when the program targets low-to-medium skill workers, instead of highly skilled workers.

    Getting highly skilled workers is the real solution to unemployment and requires nothing more than a determined statement by the poor that this is what we want to happen (instead of the rich paying more taxes by working more).

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