This report examines the Rapid Response function (mandated under the Workforce Investment Act) to provide assistance to individual workers, companies and communities in the event of plant closures and worker layoffs. The report describes multiple aspects of Rapid Response, including: a) the organization, staffing, and management of Rapid Response; b) services provided under Rapid Response to workers, employers, and communities; and c) patterns in expenditures of Rapid Response. Appendices to the report present examples of innovative Rapid Response activities and a review of the literature. Data for the report were collected in 2007 and 2008 through site visits, telephone interviews, a national survey of Rapid Response coordinators, and ETA financial reports.
Rapid Response activities included intelligence gathering on layoffs; services to workers through initial meetings, placement assistance, and access to unemployment benefits and other workforce programs; services to employers; and creating temporary infrastructure for providing services (such as on-site centers).
Key findings in the report include:
- Rapid Response actions were done quickly, as contact was made with employers within a day or two of notice and initial meetings held with workers within 13 days;
- Duration of Rapid Response interventions varied widely, from one week to eight weeks or longer;
- There was strong collaboration among state teams and local agencies and among state workforce programs;
- There were few attempts at averting layoffs since most employers had already made strategic decisions to close facilities based on economic factors over which Rapid Response teams had little or no influence;
- A few states attempted to improve outreach and services to employers by such strategies as developing partnerships with, for example, outplacement firms and Chambers of Commerce;
- In about half the states, organized labor played an important role; and
- Expenditures were quite volatile within individual states over the period as funding fluctuated with the changes in the dislocated worker set-aside.