Officials from seven local governments yesterday joined D.C. Mayor Marion Barry's regional job plan, which is designed to match unemployed workers in the District and surrounding jurisdictions with unfilled surburban jobs, particularly those in Fairfax.
Job-seekers and employers in the District, Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Loudoun, Montgomery, Fairfax County and Fairfax City can tap into a new regional job bank as a result of the agreement.
The bank, which is located in the District and already lists some Fairfax jobs, will be expanded immediately to include all eight jurisdictions, Barry said.
In addition to the employment bank, the District will spend $300,000 recruiting, referring and transporting its workers to jobs beyond the city's boundaries.
Other participating area officials said they would determine in coming weeks their financial commitment to the plan and the services they will offer.
Alexandria Mayor James P. Moran Jr., who last month said he would not cooperate with Barry's plan because it focused primarily on the District's unemployed, yesterday enthusiastically supported the regional effort.
"It's different than the first plan," Moran said of the final agreement signed yesterday.
The original plan, Moran said, helped only the District's unemployed.
Under yesterday's agreement, suburban job-seekers can also draw on the employment bank and will benefit from the job training, transportation and day care provisions that many juridictions plan to offer soon.
"It wasn't a perfect idea," Barry said about his initial plan, which was outlined June 11, "but we smoothed it out."
Barry called it "a model for the nation in interjurisdictional job help." Yesterday's gathering was the first meeting of the group, called the Washington Area Jobs Council.
Odessa Shannon, a representative of Montgomery County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist, yesterday cited what has been seen as a potential snag in Barry's plan -- the District's policy of hiring D.C. residents exclusively for its government jobs.
"Since questions have been raised about the residency requirement in the District," Shannon asked, " . . . . what is the District hiring policy?"
Barry, who had been criticized by several area officials for subscribing to this policy at the same time he was promoting a regional effort, said, "We will look at that policy , but it shouldn't be a barrier to this plan because it's really a private-sector initiative."
Barry said he was willing to negotiate over hiring requirements for certain city positions, but was adamant that teachers and police officers reside in the District.
Barry's plan comes in response to the District's unemployment rate, at 8.5 percent for June and the highest in the area.
Alexandria, at 5.3 percent, has a greater unemployment rate than either Arlington, with a 4.2 percent jobless rate, or Fairfax, at 3.5 percent. The Maryland suburbs all maintain an unemployment rate under 4 percent.
John F. Herrity, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, promised labor and business representatives at the meeting that he would increase access to the estimated hundreds of unfilled Fairfax jobs by urging employers in the county to post openings in other regions.
Herrity said Fairfax's development boom carries with it the need for what he called "one of the happiest marriages -- when an employe needs a job and an employer has one."