LANSING – State Representatives Jim Ananich (Flint) and Jim Townsend (Royal Oak) requested a hearing this week on legislation they have sponsored to create a work-sharing program for Michigan to help prevent layoffs. Work-sharing is a tool for businesses and workers to use during difficult economic times to give companies more flexibility and protect wage and benefits. At least 17 other states and several countries have implemented this type of approach successfully and it is a featured piece of the proposed American Jobs Act.

“Work-sharing is a win-win for businesses and workers,” said Ananich. “This approach has achieved results and received bipartisan support in other states and countries, so it should at least be considered here in Michigan.”

During a down period in which businesses may need workers for fewer hours, work-sharing allows them to reduce their hours while tapping into funding that would keep workers wages whole. It is totally voluntary for the businesses and helps them keep well-trained workers on the job as well as helps workers keep a job and benefits. The President has implied that if approved by Congress there may be additional funds available, which is important considering the status of Michigan’s unemployment fund.

“Giving businesses more options to help them prevent layoffs makes sense,” said Townsend. “Our legislation is something Democrats and Republicans can agree is useful in turning this economy around.”

According to an analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a national work-sharing effort could help create the equivalent of 2.4 million jobs per year. Both “red states” and “blue states” have taken advantage of this type of program for years, and John McCain’s presidential campaign chief economist, Kevin Hassett, is a strong supporter. Western Michigan University Professor Gunther Hega discussed Germany’s experience with work-sharing in a presentation earlier this year.