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Red and Blue Voters Alike Could Rally Around This Radical Job Growth Idea

March 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Liz Posner, AlterNet

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Pushing to expand Americorps or supporting a federal jobs guarantee has benefits for everyone.

Economists warn we are on the brink of another economic bust. Considering the Great Recession doubled the American unemployment rate from 5 percent to 10 percent in two years, now is the time to prepare for this looming employment crisis with meaningful policy.

Some on the left fiddle with the idea of a universal basic income, or free college tuition that could prepare more Americans for high-skill labor jobs, while the right desperately calls for restoring the good old days of U.S. manufacturing and coal jobs. But there's a simpler solution that could cast a security blanket over the most vulnerable Americans whose employment prospects will be even bleaker in a time of economic crisis.  

Eric Levitz, writing for New York Magazine, surfaced an old idea with the potential to bring together progressives, centrist Dems and even some conservatives: a federal jobs guarantee bill that would give government-funded work to the unemployed. As Levitz explains, the federal jobs guarantee has a history of support from liberals throughout the past century, from Huey Long to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and most recently, Kirsten Gillibrand. There are various ideas of what this legislation could offer; the Center on Budget Policies and Priorities has proposed a version that would guarantee its participants a minimum annual wage of $24,600 plus benefits, and an average expected wage of $32,500—a figure at least three times the highest proposed universal basic income.

The authors of the paper told the Nation their plan, “would especially benefit marginalized and stigmatized workers that face structural barriers in the private sector.” Several other countries have already implemented jobs guarantee policies. Argentina reduced its unemployment rate by two-thirds …read more


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