With adjustments for inflation, the federal government is spending 18 percent less on training workers for new careers than it did five years ago, The New York Times reported Monday.
The government is also spending 13 percent less on job support programs, such as teaching interview skills or writing cover letters and resumes, the newspaper said.
While the funding has dropped, the need has escalated dramatically. There are 6 million more people looking for work in 2012 compared to 2006.
While lawmakers have squabbled over extending unemployment benefits, however, money spent on training and job seeking support has quietly eroded.
The numbers on a local level highlight the problem. In Dallas, there are enough federal funds available to train 43 workers for the remainder of the fiscal budget year. Meanwhile, in the Dallas area in the past 10 weeks, 23,500 people have lost their jobs.
The situation has left some employers high and dry, such as Atlas Van Lines, which recently sought 100 new truck drivers.
Training for a truck driver, however, costs $4,000, but training funds in Louisville, Ky., where the company sought recruits, had already been depleted, the Times said.
"We should be spending significantly more than we were spending five years ago. And even then we would not be catching up to the demand," said Andy Van Kleunen, executive director of the National Skills Coalition.
President Barack Obama's budget proposal calls for $2.8 billion in job retraining funds to be spread over 10 years. The budget embraced by the Republican-controlled House calls for cuts in job training.
Ironically, spending on training programs peaked at $2.1 billion in 2000 and despite greater demand, current spending is down to $1.2 billion per year, the newspaper said.