NACOG using federal stimulus money for temporary jobs for unemployed

The Northern Arizona Council of Governments is using federal stimulus money to pay for temporary jobs for the unemployed in the public and private sectors, Regional Director Teri Drew said.

"We have written so many job orders," and received 175 applicants for summer youth jobs throughout Yavapai County, Drew said Tuesday. "We have had so many (applicants). I would say hundreds have been placed."

Drew said NACOG is using the estimated $1.1 million in federal stimulus money to subsidize the wages of unemployed people whom NACOG has placed in jobs that last as long as six months. NACOG subsidizes 50 to 100 percent of the wages for jobs that pay an average of $9 an hour and do not offer any benefits.

Even though the wages are low, the temporary workers earn at least $120 a week more than the maximum unemployment checks in Arizona, Drew said.

"You are putting people to work, which reduces the unemployment benefits payments, which reduces the state and federal deficit," Drew said. Moreover, the temporary employees are building resumes and spending money in the local economy.

Matt Zurcher, chairman of NACOG's Local Workforce Investment Board, concurred with Drew, saying, "By having some money in their pockets they are able to pay their bills."

Drew said her agency has worked to place unemployed people in jobs in local governments, school districts and nonprofits, and is working with manufacturers, retailers, food services, senior centers and other potential employers.

So far, the Town of Prescott Valley is the only governmental entity The Daily Courier has contacted that has placed any NACOG referrals.

Prescott Valley has hired five NACOG referrals and plans to hire two others out of a total pool of nine applicants, Human Resources Director Danielle Bowman said. She said she met with department heads to find out what positions they wanted to fill temporarily.

"We have had great success with the five that we have had to date," Bowman said.

Bowman said NACOG pays the entire wages while the town provides supervision, training and opportunities for the temporary workers to learn new skills.

The NACOG referrals also have benefited the town because a hiring freeze that went into effect in October 2007 has left 21 vacancies unfilled, according to Bowman.

Bowman's counterpart in the City of Prescott, Jolaine Jackson, said she would like to place NACOG referrals in temporary jobs in golf and park maintenance, sports/trail support, the library and administration. Prescott is down more than 50 employees because of the economy.

"We have submitted our requests and our job descriptions to NACOG," Jackson said. "We have certainly submitted paperwork. We would love to be part of that program."

Another potential beneficiary is Yavapai College. Marcee Keller, manager of student employment, said the college applied to NACOG to fill a total of 28 jobs for six months for adults or during the eight-week summer youth program.

"It is more a community service just to help out folks that have found themselves unemployed in the community," Keller said regarding the NACOG service.

NACOG staff has not approached the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Executive Director John Langellier said.

"We would love to have somebody," he said. "We are desperately in need of an IT (information technology) person."

Drew said her top priority now is placing people ages 14 to 24 during the summer youth program, which begins June 1.

For more information, call NACOG at 778-1422.

CLARIFICATION - NACOG is placing the individuals in long-term as well as temporary jobs, NACOG Regional Director Teri Drew said. She added NACOG has received job orders from the municipalities of Prescott, Chino Valley, Cottonwood and Camp Verde in addition to placing people with the Town of Prescott Valley. NACOG also has contracts with the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott.