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Unemployed need a plan, not rhetoric

I have read the dictum that the unemployed should be required to use Jobs4NJ, but here is the issue: where are the jobs? The governor and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development have announced that they will force thousands of the unemployed to register for Jobs4NJ.

Look, the state's unemployment rate remains high. People are struggling for work. Many suffer the problem of a "shock of gray" hair or wrinkles. Everywhere college grads are looking for work much below their expectations, with those ever-rising college loans for most students, who will need maybe 30 years to pay those loans back. That is insane! In addition, layoffs of teachers, state workers, police and postal workers are a drag on the economy.

The 45- to 60-year-old or older manufacturing or white-collar professional adults are struggling, as well, to find work. You can't replace the jobs with retail jobs or training for certified nursing assistant, which yields a wage way below the "living wage" and is just slightly above the minimum wage.

Some manufacturing jobs are coming back, which is good, as manufacturing creates a 4-to-1 multiplier for other jobs. Manufacturing jobs do matter, but in every economy, including China, such jobs are expected to decline drastically. Technology including robotics is becoming more heavily utilized in all markets, with fewer workers needed in such operations worldwide, including the U.S.

People should indeed visit their local one-stops and other Labor Department offices in New Jersey and elsewhere. The unemployed are entitled to information on their claim, and staff in the one-stops should provide interviews and help with resumes. Job seekers should leave with job prospects or leads.

Specialized staff need to visit companies. Let's get those business reps out looking for jobs before we utilize a total self-help program for job seekers, and we need the governor to push Congress for real work force training dollars for our county and state colleges, and for the tech schools. Rising technologies are even in Sussex County, but we need a trained work force for the entire state to make our economy sustainable.

The unemployed need a real plan and not rhetoric.

Bill Weightman

Keep developmental centers open

During a recent visit to a group home for the developmentally disabled Gov. Chris Christie stated that "he would not revisit" the decision to close two of New Jersey's seven developmental centers "just because three or four hundred people showed up at a hearing." It is extremely disturbing.

Having testified before the governor's Task Force on the Closure of State Developmental Centers, it is clear that it was no more than a drill of political wheeling and dealing to determine which centers would be closed, rather than to assess if they should be closed at all.

Our society's most fragile individuals live here. Their unique needs cannot be adequately met in the community. They cannot speak or advocate for themselves because they have profound intellectual disabilities—they're not just "slow." It is all the more disheartening then that Christie has callously disregarded the pleas of family members who speak for them, to allow their loved ones to remain in the developmental centers they've known as home.

Not only is this unconscionable, it is unacceptable.

Elaine Ferguson, first vice president
Association for Hunterdon Developmental Center

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