Thursday, August 1, 2013

William Darity — How to Guarantee a Job for Every American

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has proposed a new bill: the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act, which could pave the way for implementation of a federal job guarantee.
The idea is straightforward: any American 18 years or older would be able to find work through a federally funded public service employment program -- a "National Investment Employment Corps."
The basic idea has been endorsed by policy analysts as disparate as Kevin Hassett from the American Enterprise Institute and Jared Bernstein from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The Congressional Black Caucus included the proposal in their budget and deficit commission report in 2011.
Each National Investment Employment Corps job would offer individuals non-poverty wages, a minimum salary of $20,000, plus benefits including federal health insurance. The types of jobs offered could address the maintenance and construction of the nation's physical and human infrastructure, from building roads, bridges, dams and schools, to staffing high quality day care.
The program would include a training component to equip employees with the skills necessary to fill state and municipal needs.
The program would be cost effective, too. Suppose that the program put 15 million Americans to work -- the total number of persons out of work at the nadir of the current depression -- at an approximate cost of $50,000 per employee. The bill for the program would be $750 billion.
In 2011, the total cost of the nation's anti-poverty programs was about $740 billion. But since the National Investment Employment Corps would function simultaneously as an employment assurance and anti-poverty program, the existing anti-poverty budget could be slashed drastically, with those savings going to finance the job guarantee.
This initiative would remove the threat of unemployment and provide a direct route to sustained full employment, particularly for those groups intensely struggling to find steady work: Young veterans, young people in general, blacks subjected to discrimination in employment, all high school dropouts, and especially black high school dropouts. While providing a particular benefit for those Americans in the most desperate straits, a universal job guarantee would benefit all Americans who could experience joblessness.
PBS News Hour
How to Guarantee a Job for Every American
William Darity
(h/t Charles Haydn on FB)


Dan Lynch said...

Schools and dams and bridges ?

The WPA used to do that sort of thing, but back then we didn't have the regulations that we have today. Now all public construction projects have to be designed by a licensed professional engineer(s). Some of the trade work like electrical and plumbing must be performed by licensed tradesmen. There are good reasons for those regulations and I have no quarrel with them, but it makes me wonder where the Job Corp workers would fit in ?

How would building a road with this proposed Job Corp create more jobs than having a private contractor build the same road ?

In general, construction work is not labor intensive. You spend far more on materials and equipment than on labor. The article's estimated cost of $50,000 per job is complete BS. For building dams, it might be closer to $1M per job.

Mind you, I'm all for infrastructure projects, I just don't follow the logic of this particular proposal.

It would make more sense to me to have JG workers maintain public lands similar to the CCC -- i.e., maintaining hiking trails. That kind of work is labor intensive and is normally not performed by the private sector. However, there would be a practical limit to how many CCC workers are needed. And what if you don't live near public lands ?

Re: JG'ers doing daycare. Private day care will complain if you compete with them. Seems like it would have to be restricted to providing day care for other JG'ers?

This is why I keep pumping JG proponents for details. They have good intentions but haven't thought things through clearly.

Matt Franko said...

Good points Dan,

Makes the "BIG" or an expanded EITC and expanded Social Security/Medicare type program look better and better imo...

Expand the public pension system by both lowering the age and increase the benefits... and ensure robust minimum incomes via an expanded EITC type policy should be a good start imo...

Then let the non-govt sector provide provision for both itself and the govt sector...