Labor Dept. layoffs

Hardly noticed among more exciting news last week was a small release from the Maine Department of Labor announcing the layoff of up to 10 employees. What, a government agency reducing staff and no headlines revealing the monetary savings to taxpayers?

Maine Labor Department Commissioner Jeanne Paquette announced that her agency would cease participation in a federal grant program (RESEA – Re-employment Services and Eligibility Assessment program) that assists long-term unemployed individuals as well as veterans, as the participation rate had dropped to unsupportable levels. The low participation rate – due to Maine’s record low unemployment numbers – would have necessitated pouring unavailable Maine taxpayer money into the program. Freudian slip aside — the federal grant money first came from taxpayers somewhere – it should be applauded that a government agency took it upon itself to reduce staff when the need became reduced, or unnecessary. All too often, the primary goal of a government program has become to preserve itself – and then expand, need or not.

We certainly aren’t rejoicing the unemployment of 10 individuals in any segment of the workforce, but given the reason for the layoff, these employees should be just fine in an economy that is begging for more qualified and capable individuals all over the state. And those individuals who might continue to need the services first provided by this program can rest assured that the Department of Labor will continue to provide assistance and process claims as before.

Since 2011, there continue to be small, yet significant, signs that portions of Maine government better understand their role in the economy and the need to be more accountable to citizens and taxpayers alike. From large changes at the Maine Turnpike Authority and Maine Housing Authority to smaller changes at DHHS, Maine Lottery and now the Department of Labor, right-sizing services and employment at sustainable levels is becoming more evident. It’s a strategy that should be embraced and expanded.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.