The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the United States to the brink of economic collapse, and the country is currently months into its worst economic moment since the Great Depression. One solution to escape this downturn is to return to the types of policies advanced during the New Deal era and establish a federal jobs guarantee program in America.
While the CARES Act provided some temporary relief in the spring of 2020, sustained economic recovery requires a plan to give unemployed workers an opportunity to support themselves and their families with dignity. In this paper, the authors argue that federal jobs programs–an idea with a historical precedent in the U.S. dating to the 1940s–can help eliminate working poverty and not just restore the pre-recession economy but foster a more stable and inclusive version of it. In particular, they state that Congress should establish a program that provides a true public option for employment and gives existing workers, most notably those confined to the low end of the labor market, jobs in projects that will serve the public welfare.