Employment program hopes to tame recession

By Ashley Porter - email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - During a forum Tuesday at the Jackson Convention Complex, state leaders announced a new program aimed at encouraging small businesses to hire workers.

"Our goal is to increase employment in Mississippi, to provide an incentive to employers to hire workers," said Stan McMorris of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

That incentive would involve federal money paying for varying portions of an employee's salary over a six-month period. More than $40 million in federal money has been set aside for the initiative.

The program must still be approved by the government, but McMorris expects it to be able to start in early 2010.

"About 65,000 people each week are filing unemployment [here]," McMorris said. "A number of those are exhausting those benefits and needing employment."

It's a program that some small business owners, like Linda Shelton of Interiors Market in Fondren, would consider supporting.

"Things have been a little slower this summer, but we see people getting back in the groove of shopping," said Shelton. "The holiday season coming up does lend itself to the possibility of needing someone."

It's a program that state leaders hope will tame the local effects of a recession.

"This is a great incentive to help business, especially small business, begin hiring again," McMorris said.

To qualify for the program, employees must earn within 250 percent of the federal poverty rate, and have at least one child younger than 18. Employers must be based in Mississippi, offer a permanent job, and have a worker's compensation plan or some degree of self-insurance.

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