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Appeals Court Won't Block New Method of Counting Unemployed

January 14, 1989|United Press International

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday refused to issue an injunction against a statistical procedure that could eventually cost the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County millions of dollars.

"This will adversely affect us because of the need for job training in Los Angeles because of the many homeless," said Fran Bernstein of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

Last April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics switched to a less expensive method for estimating the number of unemployed in Los Angeles County.

Under the new procedure, called the "Handbook method," the long-term unemployed would not be included in unemployment statistics used to issue grants under the Job Training Partnership Act.

Attorneys said that although the Bureau uses the Handbook method as opposed to the direct-use method in the majority of states, it results in particularly low estimates for urban areas, such as Los Angeles County, because of the greater number of long-term unemployed.

Bernstein said this would mean an annual loss of $7 million to the county and $3.5 million to the city. But Larry Johnson of the Los Angeles County Department of Community and Senior Citizens Programs said there was no immediate economic impact because the U.S. Department of Labor had restored the cuts.

Johnson said the new procedure was established to save money after the Graham-Rudman Act became law.

In their request for an injunction, the city of Los Angeles and the county said Secretary of Labor Ann McLaughlin allowed the Bureau of Labor Statistics to change its method of estimating the homeless unilaterally, without notice and without allowing opportunity for comment.

Although there is no problem now, Johnson noted the federal government's financial shape "is not the healthiest" and may need "a shift of resources."

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