MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
DAVID GREENE, Host:
A federal program that's provided thousands of jobs for low-income people is now on the chopping block, and that brought workers, employers, activists, also Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to Washington today with a message for Congress.
MICHAEL NUTTER: The employers love this program, but most importantly, the workers and their families and certainly their children love this program.
GREENE: NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.
CHERYL CORLEY: That's how David Sullivan, who'd been unemployed for two years, got his maintenance job at a small Comfort Suites Hotel on Chicago's Michigan Avenue.
DAVID SULLIVAN: Things are tough everywhere. Nobody's got any money, so no businesses want to spend too much money. But if they get me in at $10 an hour and see, okay, I'm worth actually hiring and paying the wage, a better wage, then that gives me an opportunity.
CORLEY: Comfort Suites general manager Natalie Furka says in addition to Sullivan, the hotel was able to add three more people to its staff, including a housekeeper and two welcome ambassadors normally employed at more posh hotels.
NATALIE FURKA: Being a brand new small business opening in 2009, we have just seen our service levels, our trip advisor scores go up, having these people at our hotel. We would have not found them otherwise, and it's made such an impact to our business.
CORLEY: But Illinois has already sent out pink slips to thousands of workers announcing the fund's September 30th end. Sheena Howard has worked at Benford, Brown & Associates, a small Chicago accounting firm, since May and had hoped to be there longer.
SHEENA HOWARD: LaDonna Pavetti with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says the 37 states that operate subsidized employment programs have helped about 247,000 people survive this rocky economy, and it would be unfortunate if Congress doesn't extend the subsidy.
DONNA PAVETTI: It would be different if the unemployment rate was sort of coming down at a rapid pace, but it's not.
CORLEY: Sue Tuffin heads of the Mesa County Workforce Center in Grand Junction, Colorado, where unemployment has floated around 10 percent for more than a year and a half.
SUE TUFFIN: We're going to be basically terminating about 100 individuals. I can guarantee you that the majority of those folks will be right back in my door and back on public assistance if they have not been hired permanently.
CORLEY: And Linda Martin, the director of Family Assistance in South Carolina, says that state's welfare caseload dropped a thousand cases because of the subsidized jobs program.
LINDA MARTIN: You know, if you have something to offer besides welfare, people want to take it, and they want to go to work.
CORLEY: Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.