Boston Mayor Urges Nonprofits to Hire the Unemployed, and Puts Money Where His Mouth Is

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September 5, 2011; Source: Boston Globe | In a Labor Day speech, Boston Mayor Tom Menino announced a new jobs program that will offer financial incentives to large nonprofit institutions for hiring unemployed workers. The incentives are worth $1,000 or $1,500 per hire, and will be deducted from payments that tax-exempt organizations voluntarily contribute to city coffers (known as payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs). In fiscal year 2010, the city collected over $31 million from nonprofits, including $8.6 million from the city’s top five nonprofit employers—four hospitals and Boston College. Because these payments are voluntary, the package won’t need city council approval.

The program comes as Boston tax-exempt organizations are being pushed to pay more for basic city services. Hospitals and universities are also facing federal cuts that these incentives will not offset. Local economists question whether or not Menino’s plan will actually spur new hiring but note that it’s worth trying. Boston has a relatively modest joblessness rate of 7.9 percent, compared to a national average of 9.1 percent, but unemployment in low-income neighborhoods is significantly higher.

What do you think of the Boston mayor’s plan? Are there any other job incentives in your city for nonprofits?—Nancy Knoche