A Path to Ending Poverty by Way of Ending Unemployment: A Federal Job Guarantee

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences

Poverty in the United States, one of the world’s most wealthy and prosperous nations, is persistently high. Despite a complex array of social insurance programs in place, 43.1 million people remain in poverty. Because unemployment is a strong predictor of poverty, we propose a permanent federal job guarantee for all Americans. The program would provide full-time employment for any American over eighteen, offering at least nonpoverty wages plus benefits. Such a program will constitute a direct route to producing full employment by eradicating involuntary unemployment. It also will substantially increase worker bargaining power by removing the employer threat of unemployment. To make the case that the federal job guarantee is viable, this paper includes responses to five common criticisms lodged against programs of this type.

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