Job guarantees is a policy proposal in which the federal government guarantees well-paying jobs for American citizens. The appointments come with benefits, a handsome package for rent, transport, and food. Anyone without a job and wants one can go into a local government office for Works Progress Administration. You can walk out with a regular government position that pays a livable wage and offers dental, health and vision insurance and retirement benefits and child care for their children.
It’s an incredibly radical policy idea with roots in the Democratic Party. It can be traced to the 1970s Humphrey Hawkins Act and the emergency employment programs of the New Deal. The proposal was initially penned to give Americans that aren’t employed the sue the federal government in such instances. This proposal has been endorsed by several Democratic Party politicians among them Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand who are all senators.
Now let’s explore some of the essential questions that have popped up regarding the guaranteed jobs debate :
- Are guaranteed jobs the most effective way to employ people with work barriers?
A world with a comprehensive federal policy can’t guarantee jobs for every unemployed citizen. Full employment can’t translate to every single person being employed. There are retirees, caregivers and persons living with a disability who are not part of the workforce. Due to the churn of regular job and seasonal work, people who are working might end up unemployed any given time.
Structural unemployment is not good for those who are not working. People living with disability would like to work but face structural barriers, for instance, lacking work accommodation, inability to meet payments of health aides at work, lack of work in a sector where they are required to do the labor physically.
People who have recently incarcerated equally face the same challenge. They have been out of the workforce for a very long time. They equally face stigma associated with incarceration.
Job guarantee advocates have argued that the program seeks to aid that kind of people to get work and get reintegrated into the workforce.
- Will job guarantees be respected and accorded the respect they deserve?
There has been an argument that since subsidized employment program evaluation indicates they aren’t cost effective, they should have little employment gains terms.
In as much it is a fair point, it makes us ask ourselves the goals of jobs programs. When the goal is to get people into stable jobs, they have higher chances of career progression and earning raises. This way, public sector jobs will be seen to be a poor approach.
Leading labor economists have observed that it might be easier to have a rollover into regular jobs from private jobs that are subsidized. Public sector programs are likely to employ people as long as they are subsidized publicly. Rollovers from these positions into lasting work elsewhere are possible.
Job guarantee programs resemble workfare programs that were prevalent in the 1990s. In those workfare programs, subsidies replaced cash welfare for poor households. In exchange, the head of the family would be active in search of work. Liberals and leftists were against those proposals. They viewed them as a ploy to take away benefits for those people with difficulties working.
A job guarantee would be conditioning new work benefits for people as opposed to the notion that they would be snatching away the current benefits from them. The pay for guarantees would be much higher than welfare benefits were.
- Is a job guarantee the most significant work power booster?
A group of economists at the University of Virginia found that the National Rural Employment Scheme raised earnings for low – income Indian households by 13.3 %. This program that offered permanent, guaranteed source of income for farmers in rural areas during the dry season raised wages in the private sector. It also led to the increase in private sector employment.
Only a handful of firms would be competing for workers. Owing to this only select firms would be fighting for workers. If a job guarantee comes in, it increases the competition for workers and thrusts wages and employment opportunities in the private sector. Various employers will keep raising wages and hiring more people to cater for the productive workers they lose out to other employees.
This phenomenon which is known as monopsony can be replicated in America. Since the 1990s it has been public knowledge that an increase in the minimum would lead to skyrocketing wages without having to decrease employment opportunities. Workers that earn higher encourage collective bargaining and unions and establishment of wage boards that set standards in specific industries. This boost work power against firms and limits their ability in setting wages.
Conclusively, the benefits of job guarantees are achievable if such pertinent questions are put into consideration. It’s worth asking if the Federal Treasury and states can implement such policies.