LBJ and the Job Corps


I am old enough to remember the state of the union address delivered by LBJ in 1964 where he declared a War on Poverty. The national poverty level was close to 1/5 or 20% of USA citizens! Poverty reduction strategies were very valuable political currency then. The phrase income inequality had not yet crept into everyday parlance, but if somebody had thought of that phrase I am sure it would have become quite topical.

If one goes back far enough, what Lyndon Baines Johnson was doing was an extension of FDR’s new deal legislation during the great depression. Ideologically the War on Poverty withstood a lot of criticism with its detractors worried that our nation would become a welfare state. I guess in some sense we are a welfare state, but one of the programs that has lasted 48 years is the Job Corps! Job Corps provides free vocational training and a High School Diploma. Job Corps students can also get their driver’s license, dental care, basic medical/health care, vision care, childcare for parents who do not live on campus, and other living expenses paid for while learning a trade at the job corps. Job Corps will pay you a $1200 “graduation bonus” in Minnesota and help you find a job for 6 month period after graduation. Some Job Corps pay you an extra cash bonus if you last 6 months on the first job they find for you! The $1200 bonus is actually referred to as a transition allowance to help you with transportation or renting and apartment. Also why you are still being trained at the Job Corps, you will be paid twice a month subject to taxation by the good ole IRS.

There are pros and cons to any school or any other organization for that matter. I don’t know of many cons related to the Job Corps other than the kids, some as young as 16, get homesick. Some of the kiddos at Job Corps are not committed to improving their life and get caught shoplifting at Walmart, but that type of mischief happens in all walks of life. Living in a town that has a Job Corps has led this writer to believe that the PROS significantly outweigh the CONS. If you go to a place like ITT-Tech, AIU, Everest college, Carrington college, Brown Mackie college, Remington college or  Brookline college, you will end up in debt up to your ass and maybe not even have that great a job.  Don’t give these for profit “schools” your hard earned money! Enrolling in the Job Corps can save your family money and be a true moment of impact on the quality of your life.

Head Start, Volunteers in Service to America, and TRIO are other War on Poverty programs that survive to this day. Not bad for a president who was under the immense pressure of resolving the American involvement in the Republic of Vietnam.

One has to meet a number of qualifications to enroll in the Job Corps. It is not enough to be able to prove either you or your parents are low-income.

  • Even if your income level is low, applicants to the Job Corps must still meet at least one other qualification. To qualify for low income, applicants must have met at least one of the following requirements: received public assistance in the prior 6 months, been a foster child, been disabled or homeless, or met the poverty level income as set forth by the USA Department of Health and Human Services Guidelines.


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