Jobs Program Spent $76,000 Per Person To Help Youth Find Minimum Wage Jobs

A new jobs training oversight report by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) found that a federally-funded Oklahoma Job Corps program spent around $76,000 per person to help youth secure minimum wage jobs. 

The report, released Tuesday, comes 18 months after a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found that billions of taxpayer dollars are being poured into job training programs that benefit those who run them, not the unemployed workers they are supposed to assist.  

"Taxpayers should be appalled Congress has done nothing to reform these programs for more than 18 months," said Sen. Coburn.  

Sen. Coburn said he wanted to use his home state of Oklahoma as a case study for job training programs throughout the nation.  

Key findings included: 

  • Wasteful administrative costs are eating up job training dollars.  In one program, just 14 cents of every dollar went to actual job training. 

  • Questionable spending abounds.  For example, the Job Corps program spent $36,000 on flowers and billboards.  Other expenditures included bowling trips and recreational activities that had little to do with job training.

  • Some job training programs appear to segregate participants by race, gender, and background.  For example, Oklahoma's 40 job training programs have eight that target Native Americans and seven for veterans--"some of which require veterans to pursue training for 'green skills,' not because of labor market analysis but because politicians in Washington are imposing ideological agendas on states." 
 As one Oklahoma constituent who went through the jobs program explained:

I attended three different federally funded job assistance programs. All three were absolutely unhelpful and contributed to my panic that I may never find a good job again. One Workforce worker advised me to ‘dumb down’ my resume and even made revisions to my Workforce posted resume that included the removal of my educational and professional accomplishments. A job counselor at a different agency advised me that a ‘good job’ was one that paid $10/hour.

A record 87,897,000 Americans are no longer in the labor force. 


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