Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Pavlina R. Tcherneva — New Working Paper and Frequently Asked Questions About The Job Guarantee

My work on the Job Guarantee spans more than 25 years.
The following paper [pdf] operationalizes the proposal for the United States.

Below are some easy-to-share answers to Frequently Asked Questions that I address in the paper.

This webpage is intended to be a 'living document' that will be expanded and edited in response to new questions/concerns.

Please feel free to share with proper attribution. I welcome your comments [about].
Tcherneva, Pavlina, R. 2018. "The Job Guarantee: Design, Jobs, and Implementation", Working Paper No 902, Levy Economics Institute, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY [pdf]
Pavlina R. Tcherneva — Economics for Shared Prosperity
Frequently Asked Questions About The Job Guarantee 


Noah Way said...

And there you have it, a vast pool of cheap labor with minimum benefits that will allow the elimination of social services (because people won't be poor any more).

Not to mention all the people currently employed who may very well be displaced by these 'higher' paying jobs ... not to mention that the JG recipients are expected to be proficient in education, construction, health care, etc.

The claim that this JG proposal "isn't workfare" fails. The 'worker' gets 'benefits'.

Ralph Musgrave said...

Tcherneva's proposed $15/hr wage is a joke: that's DOUBLE the existing min wage. The effect will be to draw labor AWAY FROM the regular jobs market, i.e. labor supply to the regular jobs market is reduced, which is inflationary, which means demand has to be cut, which increases unemployment. Genius!!

If she wants to double the minimum wage, why not campaign for doing just that: doubling the minimum wage for ALL employers.

Ralph Musgrave said...

There's what's called a "workfare" scheme up and running in Hungary right now. Seems to be a bit chaotic.


Detroit Dan said...

I'm in favor of the Job Guarantee. As opposed to the alternatives -- permanent underclass, pure welfare -- it is fairer and more likely to yield tangible benefits. A little inflation in wages wouldn't be the end of the world.

Just my opinion. No need to scream about how certain you are about your opinions.

Tom Hickey said...

The major point is being missed — the replacement of a buffer stock of unemployed with a buffer stock of employed. This eliminates the waste of real resources, which include millions of unemployed that are not only not producing but also their skills are deteriorating.

Considering economics alone, eliminating waste (inefficiency) is a no-brainer.

Opponents should be forced to explain why idling a vast amount of real resources that could be employed in production is superior to idling this resource base — without handwaving.

Noah Way said...

As to "idling resources", the creation and maintenance of an underclass provides cheap labor, a target for criminalization that is used to spread fear and justify a police state, reinforces the division of society along class (and racial) lines, and provides fodder for an "all-volunteer" military largely comprised of people with no other options.

A JG can't happen for all of these reasons. In order to maintain the status quo any such program will be a version of Clinton's workfare, the primary goal of which was to gut social programs.

Ralph Musgrave said...

Tom wants an explanation as to why “idling real resources” (i.e. labour) might make sense.

First, the unemployed are not totally idle: they’re job searching, which in the case of someone devoting a decent number of hours per week to job searching is arguably more productive than JG. There’s actually some empirical evidence that a significant proportion of the unemployed end up better off in the long run by devoting their efforts to job searching rather than taking temporary low paid jobs (I don’t have the relevant link though).

Second, JG type schemes have a nasty habit of turning out in practice to be a bit of a shambles. A nick name for the WPA was “we piddle around”. And the scheme I linked to above in Hungary doesn’t seem to be brilliantly productive either.

I’m not totally against JG however. It’s just that it needs thinking about very very carefully before implementation. And I have doubts about whether the Levy Institute lot are up to the job. For example they list “elderly care” as a job suitable for JG. Like most people, I’ve had to deal with elderly relatives in their final years. I certainly would not have wanted people from the ranks of the unemployed on temporary assignments looking after them.

Detroit Dan said...

Ralph -- You make some good points.

Pavlina Tcherneva seems to be one of the people doing what you'd like to see done, i.e. "thinking very very carefully before implementation".

I do think elder care is a good target for JG. Yes, it could end up very bad if not done right. But on the other hand, it's a field where not many skills are needed beyond basic human decency. Win-win for many who do not have the resources today.

WPA did have some lasting achievements, aside from helping people earn a living. In my opinion, we need more people these days employed on social projects as opposed to private enterprises. The "job creators" have gone off the rails with too much financialization, culminating in nonsense such as cryptocurrencies and private equity firms. Meanwhile, many older people are lonely, and public infrastructure, education, and environmental conservation too often neglected.