WASHINGTON, April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Labor today announced guidance for state demonstration projects to identify innovative strategies that quickly connect unemployed workers with good jobs. Today's announcement is a key component of the first major overhaul of the Unemployment Insurance system in decades, made possible by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 signed by President Obama in February. From extending unemployment benefits that help families weather the recession to creating new skills training programs for those seeking jobs, the administration is committed to rebuilding an economy which ensures that Americans who work hard and play by the rules have the ability to realize economic security and the American dream. Last fall, the president called on Congress to act immediately to continue tax relief for virtually every working American; to reform the Unemployment Insurance system to better connect Americans with work, while also extending benefits for those who continue to pound the pavement looking for work; and to enact policies that will lay the foundation for future growth. These reforms to the Unemployment Insurance program aim to help American workers and our economy by reducing layoffs, fostering entrepreneurship and reducing the time it takes for unemployed workers to get back into jobs. As a result of these reforms, up to 10 states will be able to use administrative funding – or apply for a waiver to use Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds – to implement and evaluate programs that expedite the ability of people to return to work. "This administration is committed to finding new and innovative ways to turn the unemployment system into a re-employment system, and state programs can play a crucial role in doing so," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "These projects will help improve services, lower costs and provide crucial worker protection measures to ensure that employers who follow the rules are able to compete on a level playing field." Approved states will conduct projects that demonstrate and evaluate measures to expedite the re-employment of individuals who are eligible to receive unemployment compensation, or projects that improve the effectiveness of a state in carrying out its state law with respect to re-employment. Projects can provide wage subsidies for employer-provided training, or direct disbursements not to exceed the weekly benefit amount of an individual, to employers who hire those receiving unemployment compensation.