This public policy idea can bring America to full employment, and it’s gathering momentum

Friday, September 22, 2017

William Darity, the Samuel DuBois Cook professor of public policy at Duke University, believes the federal government can come to the rescue of out-of-work Americans by assuring them of a federal jobs guarantee.

It’s an idea that Darity said is gaining support across a wide and diverse spectrum of state and local policy advocates, anti-poverty activists and think-tank economists. In fact, the idea has drawn an endorsement from groups ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement to leading economic theorists to my Center for American Progress colleagues.

Darity and his colleague Darrick Hamilton, a professor of economics and urban policy at The New School in New York, have spent much of the last decade fine tuning how a federal jobs program could work to reduce poverty, especially the disproportionate burden that poverty and unemployment places on black and other minority communities. As Darity told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette:

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’… 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.

I spoke with Darity recently about his proposal and why he believes the nation is missing an opportunity to make full employment a reality. He said the hardships faced by a wide swath of Americans during the recent Great Recession convinced him that now is the time to push policymakers to make employment available for all who want to work. Read on for the highlights from our conversation.

Read the full interview here.