Apr 23, 2013 12:25 PM EDT

Labor Dept. Unfreezes Job Corps Enrollment

The Labor Department lifted its controversial hold on Job Corps enrollments Monday as it tried to deal with an estimated $60 million shortfall, but budget constraints mean fewer youths will be admitted in the future.

The temporary freeze, which began on Jan. 28, prevented more than 10,000 disadvantaged and at-risk youth from getting job training at 125 job centers around the country.

The Job Corps, which enrolls about 60,000 students each year, has encountered two consecutive budget deficits since the Labor Department moved the program's budgeting and procurement operations from the Office of Job Corps to the Employment and Training division. 

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said a U.S. Department of Labor directive stated the nationwide freeze on enrollments at the federal Job Corps training program for economically disadvantaged youth was lifted.

"This is good news for students in Pennsylvania and around the country as they seek skills needed to successfully enter the workforce," Casey said in a statement. "It is disturbing that financial mismanagement led to a three-month enrollment freeze that prevented students from attending Job Corps and led to job loss at local Job Corps centers."

In a letter to the Labor Department last week, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., called the decision to reduce student slots "extremely shortsighted," according to the Associated Press. He said the plan would result in a loss of 500 out of about 836 student slots in Mississippi's three Job Corps centers, and jeopardize roughly 450 staff jobs.

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