Your Workforce Development Area and Its Future Under WIOA

You may have heard that the Department of Labor is encouraging states to begin implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and you may have heard rumblings within your state about the ways in which your state intends to consolidate existing workforce investment areas into regionally-based workforce areas. In fact, we know that a good number of states have already begun this process and are trying to revamp their workforce development system, some of which includes workforce area consolidation and reorganization.

The National League of Cities is here to remind you that you and your local area have certain rights under WIOA that your governor must respect - and we want to let you know what those rights are, so that at no time are you forced to do what you don’t want to do.

Before we lay out the facts, there is one important thing we'd like to establish. When working with Congress last year on the WIOA, local organizations like NLC fought tooth and nail to guarantee your right to remain a workforce area, if you desired to do so, and met certain criteria. We did this so that the governor of your state could not dissolve your workforce area and force you to merge with other areas. We succeeded in ensuring that you have the right to remain a local area if you choose to do so, and if you meet certain performance criteria... but I'll expand upon those points at a later date. For now, here are the facts:

  1. If you currently exist as a workforce area, you may elect to do so for two years if your area performed successfully (met or exceeded adjusted performance levels for each of the two previous years) and sustained fiscal integrity (no formal determination has been made by the Secretary that your workforce area misspent funds).
  2. After two years, your local area has the right to remain a local area as long as you continue to perform successfully, maintain fiscal integrity, and engage in regional planning responsibilities (for the complete list, see Section 106©(1).
  3. If your governor is currently involved in making decisions about how to configure the state’s workforce development areas, it can only be done “through consultation with the state [workforce] board and after consultation with chief elected officials and local boards, and after consideration of comments received through the public comment process...”
  4. If a governor seeks to change local areas, other than those described above, the governor will have to take into account the extent to which the areas are consistent with labor market areas, regional economic development areas, and have the resources necessary to effectively administer the required WIOA activities.
  5. If your request for designation is rejected, you may appeal the decision to the state workforce board - and if their decision isn't favorable, you may also appeal to the Secretary of Labor.
  6. In no case can a governor designate his or her state as a single state workforce area unless the state existed as a single state workforce area on or before July 1, 2013 under the Workforce Investment Act.

If you believe that your state is violating any of the six items listed above, feel free to contact any NLC staff member so that we can help you better determine whether the state is circumventing your workforce area rights.

Finally, over the next several months, I will be sending you additional information pieces that I hope will help you better make the transition from the Workforce Investment Act to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

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