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Stimulus Money Puts Nearly 1,000 Oklahomans to Work

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A program created by the Department of Human Services called the Subsidized Employment Program has created nearly a thousand jobs in the state. A program created by the Department of Human Services called the Subsidized Employment Program has created nearly a thousand jobs in the state.
The program is funded by stimulus dollars, and employers are reimbursed for the wages they pay to employees hired under the program. The program is funded by stimulus dollars, and employers are reimbursed for the wages they pay to employees hired under the program.
Express Employment Professionals said they have helped put 400 people to work who may not have otherwise had a job. Express Employment Professionals said they have helped put 400 people to work who may not have otherwise had a job.

By Amy Lester, Oklahoma Impact Team

OKLAHOMA CITY -- In a time when it's tough to find a job, a stimulus program encourages companies to hire new employees. Almost 900 Oklahomans got back into the workforce thanks to a program.

"I don't lose my home, my kids can eat. It means everything because I've got to work, you know, it's everything," said Dotti Jones.

Jones is a welder at Kingfisher Kookers. She was laid off when the company's sales dropped, but she was rehired with stimulus dollars, two months earlier than she expected.

"I am very thankful. Two months might not seem like much, but, to make a house payment or to keep your kids fed or keep them light in the home, two months is an eternity," Jones said.

Kingfisher Cookers is one of 150 companies that hired people through the program. The Department of Human Services created it and it's called Subsidized Employment Program. The federal government agreed to fund it with $12 million stimulus dollars.

"I think it's an excellent use of stimulus dollars. I feel like this is a program that actually does what the economic stimulus dollars were intended to do," said Paulette Bushers, D.H.S. Programs Field Representative.

The program is pretty simple. Companies hire an employee and the government reimburses them for 100 percent of the person's pay for the first month, up to $12 an hour and 40 hours a week. Then, the government reimburses for 50 percent of months two through four. If the employee stays on past the fourth month, the government gives the company a full reimbursement for months two through four.

Click here to read a list of companies participating

Express Employment Professionals hired hundreds of people, under this program, and placed them in companies all over the state.

"At the end of the day, we were really happy that the program was in place, and I know it helped us put nearly 400 people to work that wouldn't have otherwise had a job," said David Lewis, Regional Manager for Express Employment Professionals.

So, will companies keep employees on after the four month subsidy ends? It appears so, at least for now. Eighty percent of the employees have stayed on past four months.

"We're hoping for a long term fix because a lot of employers have actually been able to grow their business by utilizing this program and been able to build their business and generate more profit in order to keep the employees on," Bushers said.

Coordinators at D.H.S. were hoping Congress would extend funding for programs like this, but that didn't happen. So, there's no more stimulus money available for this program.

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