What would happen if the U.S. guaranteed every citizen a job with a living wage and benefits?
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- A new book from Pavlina Tcherneva, chair of the economics department at New York's Bard College, makes the case for a "Job Guarantee" federal program.
- The program would grant jobs to every citizen who's willing and able to work.
- A 2019 poll found that a majority of Americans would support a federally funded jobs program.
$15 minimum wage and benefits<p>Jobs granted through the program would offer at least $15 per hour, and this base wage would remain flexible to match inflation over time. The Job Guarantee would also provide workers with health insurance, paid leave, childcare, and possibly fewer hours than the current 40-hour standard work week.<br></p><p>Establishing standards like these, Tcherneva argues, would pressure private firms to treat and pay workers better, considering that now they'd have more employment options and wouldn't have to settle for <a href="https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/06/case-for-job-guarantee-review-pavlina-tcherneva" target="_blank">poor working conditions</a>.</p>
Jobs would be funded federally, administered locally<p>Across the U.S., unemployment offices would be converted into employment offices. The unemployed would be able to enter these offices and "leave with a list of employment options, public-service opportunities you'll be able to access locally," Tcherneva told Vox.<br></p><p>What would those jobs look like? Tcherneva offered some examples: performing weatherization on a local <a href="https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/5/4/21243725/coronavirus-unemployment-cares-act-federal-job-guarantee-green-new-deal-pavlina-tcherneva" target="_blank">hardware store</a>, replacing lead pipes on a construction site, helping out at a homeless shelter, or working on local <a href="https://therealnews.com/stories/why-the-green-new-deal-includes-a-jobs-guarantee" target="_blank">alternative-energy projects</a>.</p><p>The federal government would remain mostly hands off, allowing state and local governments to decide which public projects to pursue, and how to allocate resources.</p>
The program would be 'counter-cyclical'<p><span style="background-color: initial;">In the current economic system, unemployment spreads like a virus: people lose their jobs, stop spending money, businesses are forced to shut down, and so on.</span><br></p><p>A Job Guarantee could act as a buffer that absorbs unemployed people before they fall to the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. And this could help to stabilize the economy during recessions, assuming these workers continued to spend money. As the economy improves, workers could move back to their previous jobs, or to other employment options.</p>
How the U.S. might pay for a Job Guarantee<p>Tcherneva doesn't deny that a Job Guarantee would require <a href="https://therealnews.com/stories/why-the-green-new-deal-includes-a-jobs-guarantee" target="_blank">massive public investment</a>, but she notes that what's lacking isn't the money, but political will. What's more, she notes the high social costs of having a large swath of the American workforce remain, more or less, permanently unemployed.<br></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I came to the Jobs Guarantee from a macroeconomic perspective — the realization that we were using unemployed people as a kind of "buffer stock" to control inflation," she told the <a href="https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2020-06-24/forget-ubi-says-an-economist-its-time-for-universal-basic-jobs" target="_blank">Los Angeles Times</a>. "Having unemployed people means that when the economy grows, those people would be there to take those jobs."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"But what if we could use <em>employment</em> as a buffer stock? That's obviously the superior option. I realized that you couldn't just argue about this as a macroeconomic policy, you have to bring in the human rights framework, the moral framework. You have to think about the kind of neglect, the health effects, the pain that unemployment inflicts on people who want to work."</p><p>According to <a href="http://www.levyinstitute.org/publications/the-job-guarantee-design-jobs-and-implementation" target="_blank">projections</a> from the Levy Institute, with which Tcherneva is affiliated, the program would cost about 1.5 percent of the U.S. GDP, boost real GDP by half a trillion dollars, and create 3 to 4 million jobs.</p>
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The pandemic has given us an early glimpse at how truly disruptive the fourth industrial revolution may be, and the measures we'll need to support human dignity.
- The coronavirus crisis has acted as a catalyst for two powerful transformative forces: automation and universal basic income.
- These two intertwined forces will undoubtedly gain steam, writes Frederick Kuo, and the pandemic will hasten the acceptance of them from a scale of decades to years or mere months.
- This crisis has ushered in a glimpse of what a dystopian future could look like as a rapidly advancing fourth industrial revolution inevitably causes severe disruption in our economy and labor structure.
COVID-19 will expedite automation<p>As the mobility of human beings grinds to a halt due to public health directives and fears of infection, our need for food, resources and social connection has forced us to increasingly rely on technology to fill urgent gaps. In the United States, Amazon is seizing this opportunity to further entrench its <a href="https://nypost.com/2020/03/31/coronavirus-is-only-making-jeff-bezos-and-amazon-more-powerful/" target="_blank">domination</a>, while in China, robots are being deployed to serve those in <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/18/how-china-is-using-robots-and-telemedicine-to-combat-the-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">quarantine</a>. In a world where fear of contact with other humans has become pervasive, businesses that can adapt quickly and significantly automate their supply lines and cut points of human contact stand to thrive in this new market. </p><p>Whereas before this crisis, the need for automation was mainly driven by the desire for increased profits and improved efficiency, the momentous shift in public consciousness today regarding simple human contact may make automation almost a necessity for many businesses to survive. When humans trust a robot to handle or deliver their food or goods more than they trust another human, or when crowded workplaces present public health hazards, jobs for humans will be unceremoniously eliminated. Given existing technologies, experts have estimated <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/24/the-robots-are-ready-as-the-covid-19-recession-spreads/" target="_blank">36 million jobs</a> may be vulnerable, ranging from trucking and delivery to food service and repetitive white collar jobs, the labor market may face a significant restructure driven by <a href="https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/3/31/21200010/coronavirus-recession-automation-brookings-mark-muro" target="_blank">new technology</a> and a radically altered market for those technologies. In a recent survey conducted by auditing firm <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/30/bosses-speed-up-automation-as-virus-keeps-workers-home" target="_blank">Ernst & Young</a>, more than half of company bosses throughout 45 countries had begun implementing existing plans to fast track automation.</p>
Mainstream acceptance of UBI<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="44c33c426c79ad9f2c6148d8f9f63bc4"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UEsK7hpIkVI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>In early 2019, <a href="https://time.com/5804656/ubi-yang-coronavirus/" target="_blank">Andrew Yang</a> began gaining news coverage regarding the central theme of his presidential campaign: $1,000 a month in universal basic income (UBI) dispersed to every American. His primary argument for the necessity of this safety net rested on the belief that the coming age of automation was about to inundate vast scores of our current jobs with a shrinking percentage of elite tech corporations gobbling up more and more of the profit. When Yang first introduced his vision, it seemed to belong to a remote dystopian future with little relevance to the booming economy and low unemployment figures that was the reality until only weeks ago. On the right, he was lambasted as a communist seeking to turn American citizens into dependents to the state. On the left, his ideas were dismissed as other Democratic hopefuls touted the Green New Deal and job programs.</p><p>Fast forward to today and Andrew Yang's UBI theory has moved straight into the forefront. Trump, perhaps cognizant that the "Yang Gang" pulled a great deal of support from his own supporters, quickly recognized the popularity of his ideas and the need to provide supplemental income to Americans as shelter-in-place directives began to take hold throughout the country. The massive <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/coronavirus-checks-direct-deposits-are-coming-here-s-everything-you-n1168936" target="_blank">$2 trillion</a> coronavirus emergency stimulus will provide every American earning $75,000 or less, regardless of current employment, a check of $1,200 per person and $500 per child for the duration of the crisis. There has been little debate over the necessity of this measure because it has proven to be widely popular to the public, regardless of political standing. It lifts some of the immediate and pressing need to work and helps take some of the edge off from isolating at home, thus contributing to a quicker resolution of this health crisis by sending fewer people out into the streets.</p>
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A.I. hasn't come for our jobs just yet, but it can figure out who is looking for a new one.
- A new study analyzes mountains of data to see which industries have the highest level of employee volatility.
- Volatility isn't always a bad thing, but it is always good to know about.
- Moving to new jobs within the same industry is often a route to higher wages.
Not precisely the AI-related employment shock you were thinking of.<p>The <a href="https://www.workforcelogiq.com/2020/02/12/new-predictive-labor-market-report-workforce-volatility-across-industries-states-cities-and-job-functions/" target="_blank">study</a>, carried out by the <a href="https://www.workforcelogiq.com/about/" target="_blank">Workforce Logiq</a> company, uses data from "40,000 sources, 1 billion+ monthly interactions, and analytics on over 100 million candidates and 8 million organizations" in combination with A.I. analysis and a variety of models to determine how a variety of local and global factors contribute to employment stability or volatility.</p><p>The model gives every industry, company, and region included in the study a Talent Retention Risk (TRR) score. A higher the TRR, the higher the employee volatility. With it, upwards of 2000 sorts of data, including economic information, news about the industry and company, leadership changes, and other factors are accessed. </p><p>The findings, organized here into a chart, show which industries are more at risk for volatility and which are less so:</p>
Workforce Logiq<p>The authors point out that Mississippi has no Fortune 500 companies in it and as a result have little headhunting to drive up their score. On the other end of the spectrum, New York has a ton. While the authors conclude that higher scores relate to more opportunities overall, they also point out that the industries with the highest volatility, as seen above, tend are concentrated in the same areas. </p>