Nearly six months after D.C. Mayor Marion Barry unveiled a plan to match unemployed District residents with job vacancies in the suburbs, the program has put about 300 to work in the surrounding region, city officials said yesterday.
At a breakfast meeting with Fairfax County Board Chairman John F. Herrity, D.C. and county officials and representatives of more than 50 major companies, Barry outlined the goals of his plan, designed to reduce the city's unemployment rate.
Northern Virginia businesses that have grappled with shortages of retail employes, construction workers and other skilled laborers, hailed the plan, which included provisions to train and transport workers from the District to job sites in the suburbs.
Barry yesterday contrasted the slow growth of jobs in the District so far this decade with the rapid expansion in the suburbs, declaring, "We have no choice but to reach out to you, the suburban employer."
Fairfax County has the largest number of potential employers of any area in the region, officials said.
Matthew F. Shannon, director of the D.C. Department of Employment Services, said the program is just now getting under way. He declined to set a goal for job placements. "Our goal is to reduce the unemployment rate in the District to 4 percent," he said. The District's current unemployment rate is 9.1 percent.
"This is just a first step," Barry said after the meeting. "We're letting people know what the program's about."
Barry has already met with Montgomery County officials and employers, and plans future meetings in Arlington County and Alexandria.
D.C. employment officials said the program still was not operating in Prince George's County.