U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has introduced a bill aimed at addressing the impact the opioid epidemic is having on the nation’s workforce.
The Comprehensive Addiction Recovery through Effective Employment and Reentry, or CAREER Act, creates a pilot program focused on the states most devastated by substance abuse. The legislation encourages local businesses and treatment groups to form partnerships. McConnell said having stable employment is about more than a paycheck and supporting a family.
“We see firsthand in Kentucky the need for the structure and support that come with a job to help keep former addicts from falling back into the cycle of addiction,” he said.
McConnell said he’s frequently heard from employers who cite substance abuse as a major hurdle to finding and hiring the workers they need. While speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate, McConnell cited a study that attributed roughly 25 percent of the decline in workforce participation between 1999 and 2015 to the opioid crisis.
“I frequently hear Kentucky employers cite substance abuse as a major hurdle to finding and hiring suitable applicants,” he said.
McConnell said the bill expands housing block grants to encourage more transitional housing options for recovering addicts. The bill also gives states more flexibility to spend federal career services and training funds to support individuals transitioning from treatment to the workforce.