Monday, July 11, 2016

[NJFAC] Making the Case for Public Job Creation

NJFAC Board Member William Darity made the case for a federal job guarantee in a recent post in the  New York Times "Debating the Issues" forum, to address the question "Are We Ready For the Next Recession?"

A second post by Pavlina Tcherneva, economic professor at Bard College, pointed out that Americans overwhelming support a national jobs program, according to a Gallup Poll carried out in 2013

Finally, scroll down for information on the 40th Anniversary of the California Conservation Corps, a great example of a small public sector jobs program that employs 3,000 people per year, that could potentially be replicated by other states, and reestablished at the national level.

1) A Guaranteed Federal Jobs Program Is Needed by William Darity, The New York Times

UPDATED JULY 11, 2016, 3:20 AM

Before worrying about the next recession, the sad quality of our current recovery deserves attention. Seven years since the National Bureau of Economic Research officially declared the Great Recession over, vast numbers of American families remain beset by deep economic insecurity — June's surge in job numbers notwithstanding.

One in five American adults, and nearly half of the nation's children, live in poverty or near-poverty.

A lot of this has to do with the fact that Americans continue to be subjected to bad jobs or unstable employment — and those who are employed often face stagnant or even declining wages. The fragility of Americans' economic well-being is epitomized by the National Coalition for the Homeless' estimate that 44 percent of homeless persons actually have jobs, albeit poorly paid jobs.

The expansion of "flex work" arrangements, which make work hours uncertain, contribute significantly to income volatility for workers in low-pay sectors of the economy. Around 50 percent of Americans could not meet a $400 emergency expense by drawing upon their personal savings if they had to.

An alternative to these conditions is the adoption of a federal job guarantee, a policy that would insure the option for anyone to work in a public sector program, similar to what the Works Progress Administration established in the 1930s.

Each job offered under a federal employment assurance would be at a wage rate above the poverty threshold, and would include benefits like health insurance. A public sector job guarantee would establish a quality of work and the level of compensation offered for all jobs. The program would be great for the country: It could meet a wide range of the nation's physical and human infrastructure needs, ranging from the building and maintenance of roads, bridges and highways, to school upkeep and the provision of quality child care services. It would also function as an automatic stabilizer, a program that could expand with downturns of the economy and contract with upturns.

Given the cyclical nature of our existing economy, we cannot prevent the next recession. But we can reduce its impact and magnitude. The federal job guarantee would reduce the impact by enabling all households to maintain a minimum standard of decent living.

William Darity Jr. is the Samuel DuBois Cook professor of public policy, African and African-American Studies and economics, and the director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University.  Join Opinion on Facebook and follow updates on 

2) Keep Unemployment from Mushrooming with Preventative Policies by Pavlina Tcherneva, The New York Times

UPDATED JULY 11, 2016, 3:20 AM

Though job growth surged in June, by and large, this recovery has been the slowest in postwar history and 7.8 million people continue to look, unsuccessfully, for work. 

There is nothing inevitable or natural about jobless recoveries.

If they have become a new normal, it is largely by design. Fiscal and monetary policies always arrive too late — when recessions are well underway — and just as it is impossible to stop an avalanche after it has started, it's impossible to reverse mass layoffs in the midst of a crisis.

There are better ways to stabilize the business cycle and prepare for the next recession through forward-thinking policies of prevention and mitigation.

For example, a voluntary federal jobs program for the unemployed could be established now to provide individuals and families with as-needed job assurance at a base (living) wage. Think of it as an employment safety-net: The program would be permanent but the jobs would be transitional. It would be federally funded but designed and administered by localities, non-profits or social enterprises. It would put the unemployed to work in much needed public service, green or care projects, and provide on-the-job training and education that would help people transition back into private sector employment.

This is a genuine preventative policy. It stops unemployment from mushrooming while maintaining tight full employment over the long run. Importantly, it slashes the large direct and indirect costs of unemployment that society and governments already bear, including high crime and incarceration rates, mental and physical health problems, elevated mortality rates, urban blight, and social and political turmoil. The current policy of tolerating any amount of involuntary unemployment, while paying for its social and economic consequences, is simply too expensive.

A federal jobs program is much cheaper.

It is also an effective counter-cyclical stabilizer: Spending on the program would increase at the onset of recessions — when more people are unemployed and need it — and shrink as the private sector recovers and hires more workers.

Plus, Americans overwhelmingly support government job creation programs. A whopping 72 percent favor a federally funded infrastructure investment program to hire the unemployed, and the same number back a federal law that would create more than one million new jobs.

But if we want to be ready for the next recession, the time to implement the jobs program is now.

Pavlina Tcherneva is chair of the department of economics at Bard College and a research scholar at Bard's Levy Economics Institute.  Join Opinion on Facebook and follow updates on 

3) Finally, the California Conservation Corps recently celebrated its 40th Anniversary, a terrific example of a state-operated public jobs program, and a good model for the nation. 

 California Conservation Corps
Started: 1976
Locations: More than two dozen
Budget: $95.4 million (2015-16)
Workers: 3,000 hired statewide per year
Requirements: California residents between ages 18 and 25 and not on probation or parole
Mission: Provide labor for natural resource projects and disaster relief

Since 1976, the California Conservation Corps has completed the following:

20 million:
 Trees planted
11 million: Hours improving parks and recreation areas
9.6 million: Emergency response hours
3.5 million: Sandbags filled during floods and storms
1.6 million: Hours improving fish habitat
10,840: Miles of trails built or maintained in national parks and forests

Source: California Conservation Corps

Please also note that Rep. Marcy Kaptur has proposed the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act, HR 1966, to re-establish the CCC at the national level
The new CCC would provide jobs to unemployed or underemployed U.S. citizens in constructing, maintaining, and carrying through works of a public nature, such as forestation of U.S. and state lands, prevention of forest fires, floods, and soil erosion, and construction and repair of National Park System paths and trails. HR 1966 would be funded at a level of $16 billion a year.  For more information, click here.  

If you are interested in helping to support this bill, please invite your House member to cosponsor the billFor more information, contact Logan Martinez at: Cell  937-260-2591 or 


Submitted by Chuck Bell, Vice Chair
National Jobs for All Coalition




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