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L.A. County could create 10,000 temporary jobs with stimulus funds

March 05, 2009|Garrett Therolf

Supervisor Don Knabe said Wednesday that Los Angeles County could create as many as 10,000 temporary jobs with funding from a federal stimulus package signed into law by President Obama last month.

Knabe, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, asked staffers to use more than $100 million in federal funds to create subsidized jobs. The county would be required to pay 20% of the compensation for most of the employees.

"The problem here is that it's temporary. So it's not a panacea," Knabe said in an interview. "But at least it gets people in the workforce temporarily and they will have a training opportunity."

The new jobs would mostly be entry-level positions and be reserved for people collecting welfare. New employees would tackle the work backlog created by the county's hiring freeze. (The county is now calculating how much work has been left unfinished by the county's remaining workforce of 100,000.)

"We are trying to ensure that we are not creating busy work. We do have a lot of vacancies in the county that have not been filled," said David Sommers, Knabe's spokesman.

The jobs would be available between May and March 2010.

Knabe said the county would have to scramble to process that many job applicants by spring. Currently, only 700 welfare recipients have passed intermediate clerk exams.

"If we were able to get 10,000 jobs, could we get them through the system? That's going to be the next battle," Knabe said. If the county takes too long, the funds might go elsewhere, he said.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds are expected to be funneled through the county in the coming months. Medicaid and foster care systems will receive an additional $442 million between now and next year because of new funding formulas, said County Chief Executive William T Fujioka.

Another $32 million will go to county roads. An $81.5 million grant will benefit homeless prevention and community development programs, among others.

In a memorandum, Fujioka wrote that the success of the stimulus funding would be "determined by its ultimate effectiveness in improving economic conditions in the State and the County, which, in turn, will affect State and local tax revenues and decrease health, welfare, and other State and County expenditures."

However, Fujioka cautioned that the federal windfall could be offset by state cuts.

"The federal government is putting money in our right pocket, but the state may take just as much from our left pocket," he said.

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garrett.therolf@latimes.com

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