Economic Snapshot | Budget, Taxes, and Public Investment

Another challenge for the unemployed: Public library budget cuts

Public libraries around the country are facing budget cuts that are forcing them to reduce hours, scale back book purchases, or close altogether. Such cuts will make it more difficult for millions of unemployed workers to access the resources and technology needed to find jobs. The Figure presents the findings of a recent report published by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, showing that 30 million people a year use their local public libraries to research job openings, apply for jobs, and work on their résumés.

These library patrons are typically lower income and are disproportionately people of color. Internet access at public libraries also supports other important economic activity. Nineteen million people manage their personal finances using library Internet access, and 5 million people use library Internet access for starting or managing a business, the report shows. Cuts to library budgets not only lead to cuts in library jobs, but will also cut off low-income workers from access to jobs. Federal aid to state and local governments would help save some of these jobs and help to ensure that low-income job seekers have access to the resources and technology they need to find work.

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