Opinion: Economy needs to create 4.4 million more jobs

Monday, July 31, 2017

Recognizing the harm caused by this “employment gap” — which has historically been a persistent reality for some groups, such as African-American workers, even during otherwise robust labor markets — policy experts such as Sandy Darity and Darrick Hamilton, as well as others, have long advocated for a federal job guarantee.

In the wake of the 2016 election, the idea has enjoyed an upsurge of attention. Related job-creation solutions—such as a large-scale public employment, subsidized jobs, or national service programs—fall short of guaranteeing a job, but could significantly narrow the employment gap and encourage broad-based wage growth.

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Dramatically boosting employment among non-college-educated workers is not a pie-in-the-sky fantasy. CAP’s “Marshall Plan” report estimated that the direct cost of the 4.4 million jobs needed to bring workers with a high-school education or less back to their 2000 employment peak would be $158 billion annually. While no small sum, this is only one-quarter of the tax cuts President Donald Trump has proposed for wealthy Americans.

But creating the political will to fully tackle America’s employment requires acknowledging the challenges facing all members of America’s working class — and the imperative of expanding greater opportunity to all.

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