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NY State Labor Department Opens Jobs Office to Fight Unemployment in the Bronx

by Rebecca Lewis
A A
Ribbon cutting for the new NY Works office

Rebecca Lewis, WFUV

The New York Works office targets the Bronx as a region, rather than specific demographics.

The New York State Department of Labor, with the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, has opened a jobs office in the Bronx that will bring cost-free services to Bronx businesses and help residents find jobs.

The new NY Works office opened in the Bronx on Friday as part of the governor's Unemployment Strikeforce. The borough has consistently seen some of the highest rates of unemployment. A report from the Department of Labor found in July, the most recent month data has been released on, the Bronx had the highest rate of unemployment out of all 62 counties in the state. At 11.2%, it's also the only county to hit double digits.

This history of high unemployment rates is why the office was opened in the borough. Labor Commissioner Peter Rivera said the program is different than efforts in the past to combat unemployment.

"For the first time, we are looking at the problem as a geographical problem," Rivera said Tuesday, when the office officially opened.

In the past, Rivera said efforts were aimed at demographics like youth or veterans, rather than targeting specific regions that were in need.

"Historically, when you look at what the federal government does and when you look at what most states do, they provide incentives [for businesses] on a statewide level... And when you look at the communities we've tried to help, we've tried to work with the youth population... the prison population... and a whole kind of population that has been targeted."

The new program partners with local residents looking for employees. These businesses are matched with Bronx residents who are qualified and looking for a job. Rivera said it will help businesses expand so they have new openings, and help the unemployed prepare to enter, or re-enter, the workforce. He said networks have been set up with community colleges that would help students prepare to enter the workforce immediately.

"One of the biggest problems that we get from employers is quite often they interview people or they try to hire people who are not ready for employment."

A number businesses and non-profits are already working with the program. These include Montefoire Hospital and banks like Chase and Barclays. The program has also found employees for the 1,800 positions at the new Bay Plaza Mall that opened last week after working with developers while it was being built.

Officials are hopeful that other businesses will join the program.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said the opening of the new office comes during a period of economic growth in the borough. He said millions have been put into the private sector and 14,000 new jobs have been added in recent years.

"It's going to be able to better equip us... to make sure the average Bronxite will benefit from that boom... that's occurring in our borough," Diaz said.

The office is located in room 123 of 851 Grand Concourse. It's open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m..

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