I have long advocated for a guaranteed job. Interesting article below:
Guaranteeing jobs for everyone who wants oneVox.comDylan Matthews · Apr 20, 2018
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His bill would guarantee jobs in 15 urban and rural areas to test if it works.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has a big idea: give 15 local areas federal money so they can guarantee all their residents a job.
The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act, announced by Booker on Friday, would establish a three-year pilot program in which the Department of Labor would select up to 15 local areas (defined in the bill as any political subdivision of a state, like a city or a county, or a group of cities and counties) and offer that area funding so that every adult living there is guaranteed a job paying at least $15 an hour (or the prevailing wage for the job in question, whichever’s higher) and offering paid family/sick leave and health benefits.
The idea of a government job guarantee ensuring all adults who want employment get it has a long history in American politics, but it has gained popularity as the Democratic Party has sought to embrace bigger and more ambitious economic policies in the wake of the 2016 election.
Booker’s plan is essentially a pilot version of a proposal from Duke’s Mark Paul and William Darity, Jr. and the New School’s Darrick Hamilton, economists who have, together and individually, advocated a job guaranteeforyears, well before the current surge in enthusiasm. Most recently, Paul, Darity, and Hamilton wrote up their proposal for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a highly influential left-of-center think tank, in a clear sign the idea was gaining traction. Booker’s bill is an even bigger step forward.
“The federal jobs guarantee is an idea that demands to be taken seriously,” Booker said in a statement. “Creating an employment guarantee would give all Americans a shot at a day’s work and, by introducing competition into the labor market, raise wages and improve benefits for all workers.”
The policy case for a job guarantee
The idea of a job guarantee serves both a policy and a political purpose.
On the policy side, a job guarantee would, in theory, effectively end recessions in America. Right now, the US government’s strategy when the economy stops growing is to use a combination of monetary stimulus (in which the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates or buys up billions of dollars of long-term bonds) and fiscal stimulus (as in the 2009 stimulus package, which blended a boost in spending with temporary tax cuts).
For a variety of political and institutional factors, the Fed and Congress weren’t able to do enough in 2008 to 2010 to prevent unemployment from breaking 10 percent, and they certainly weren’t able to effect a full recovery within a couple years. Returning to normal unemployment rates took nearly a decade, resulting in years of human misery and lost wage gains that a healthier and faster recovery could’ve delivered.
Job guarantee advocates argue that their plan effectively creates a permanent form of fiscal stimulus that politicians wouldn’t need to scramble to pass whenever disaster hits. Instead, if the economy took a turn for the worse and companies started shedding jobs, the government would automatically soak up anyone who’s laid off and give them work. That in turn would put more money in consumers’ pockets, boosting demand and improving business’ prospects. Before you know it, the economy’s back to normal.
Advocates argue the policy could prove beneficial during economic booms as well. The fruits of economic recoveries and booms aren’t evenly shared, demographically. As of March 2018, 60.7 percent of white people in America were employed, but only 58.4 percent of black people were.
Nor do booms affect all geographic areas equally. There are still 337 counties or county-equivalents with a combined labor force of over 6.7 million people that have unemployment rates of 7 percent or higher as of February 2018. Seventy-eight counties, like Yuma, Arizona, still have unemployment rates in excess of 10 percent.
A job guarantee would, in principle, lessen those inequalities. People in struggling regions would be guaranteed work without having to move. Black Americans and disabled Americans wouldn’t be expected to wait until employers have run out of white and nondisabled people to hire until they get their chance.
Finally, advocates argue that the policy would lead to an increase in wages for everyone. That’s a big benefit at a time when unemployment is low but wage growth is still sluggish.
If you’re a part-time employee at Walmart, and all of a sudden you can get $15 an hour, work full time, and earn full benefits by working for the federal government — wouldn’t you? And, knowing that, wouldn’t Walmart try to increase wages to keep you?
Advocates say Walmart would. And they have some empirical evidence on their side from India, where a type of job guarantee known as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme functions largely as an insurance system, offering a source of income for rural farmers during the dry season.
Just as job guarantee advocates would predict, the program bid up wages everywhere. Perhaps the most surprising result was that the program not only increased wages, but increased employment in the private sector.
The political case for a job guarantee — and the challenges it faces
The fact that Cory Booker, a rising star in the Democratic Party and a likely 2020 contender who faces considerable skepticism from the left due to his stances on education and Wall Street, has endorsed experimenting with a job guarantee is a clear indication that some in the party think it could be a political winner as well as a policy advance.
In the wake of the 2016 election, liberal commentators have latched onto the job guarantee as a way to forge a cross-racial working-class coalition. They need a plan that appeals to both to the white Wisconsin and Michigan voters who switched from Obama to Trump and to black and Latino workers left behind by deindustrialization. The ideal plan would both improve conditions for lower-income Americans while supporting Americans’ strong intuition that people should work to earn their crust.
“A federal job guarantee is both universal—it benefits all Americans—andspecifically ameliorative to entrenched racial inequality,” Slate’s Jamelle Bouie noted.
“The job guarantee asserts that, if individuals bear a moral duty to work, then society and employers bear a reciprocal moral duty to provide good, dignified work for all,” Jeff Spross added in the influential center-left journal Democracy.