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SF Invests $7.4M in Local Hiring Program, Payroll Subsidies

  • The San Francisco Mayor's Office announced a $7.4 million expansion of JobsNOW, a program administered by the City's Human Services Agency that connects unemployed and underemployed residents with jobs

  • JobsNOW was established by the Obama White House in 2009, and connects jobseekers to private and public sector positions

  • The $7.4 million investment will reimburse payroll expenses for San Francisco businesses impacted by COVID-19, providing full or partial subsidies for business' payroll for up to six months

In response to surging unemployment, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said on Tuesday that the City will invest $7.4 million in JobsNOW, a program designed to encourage local hiring by subsidizing payroll expenses for participating employers.

The JobsNOW program was created in 2009 during the Great Recession, and tapped federal dollars to establish a local jobs pipeline alongside payroll reimbursements for businesses looking to build or expand in the wake of the financial crisis.

The original program was targeted at unemployed and underemployed people who were receiving public subsidies such as CalFresh, Medi-Cal or cash assistance through San Francisco's Human Services Agency (HSA). With the $7.4 million expansion, the program will broaden its scope to include anyone who has been unemployed for at least one month.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Mayor Breed said the program is part of an effort to "get our economy going again," and will help unemployed residents re-enter the workforce while providing an incentive for local businesses to reopen.

"To support small business, we should make it easier for them to get help from JobsNOW," she said. "We want to make sure we come out of this pandemic more successful and stronger than before."

More than 200,000 San Francisco residents have filed for unemployment since the beginning of the pandemic, and although some have been rehired, the City's unemployment rate hovered at 8.4% at the end of September.

The JobsNOW program is aimed at minimizing uncertainty for businesses looking to reopen, added Trent Rohrer, executive director of SF HSA. The program "meets the HR needs of participating employers by managing outreach and initial vetting of jobseekers, he said, while the wage reimbursements fall into three tiers.

Businesses with the highest payroll needs can receive 100% payroll reimbursement for three months and 50% reimbursement for another three months. Other tiers include allow for 50% wage reimbursement for 6 months to employers who pay $25/hour or more, or a monthly subsidy of between $625 and $1500 for six months.

The City is working with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and Office of Small Business to onboard businesses into the program. The San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development and California's Employment Development Division will also assist in recruiting jobseekers.

"This will go a long way in providing relief," Rohrer added.


Image by Jake Buonemani
Image by Rasmus Gundorff Sæderup

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