Features » August 12, 2019
Every American Should Be Guaranteed a Job. The Green New Deal Could Make That Happen.
A jobs guarantee isn’t a new concept—52% of Americans already support it.
fed•er•al jobs guar•an•tee
1. A government policy to provide a job for anyone who wants one
We’ve been talking about this for a while, right?
Yes! President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a “second Bill of Rights” in his 1944 State of the Union, a list of economic and social rights including “the right to a useful and remunerative job.”
“Full employment” has been the official goal of the U.S. government since 1978, with the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act following advocacy from labor groups as well as Coretta Scott King. Early versions of the bill included an actual jobs guarantee, which was cut out of the final legislation. A jobs guarantee was also part of Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential platform.
Are any of this year’s presidential candidates supporting a jobs guarantee?
Several! Cory Booker (N.J.) introduced a Senate bill—co-sponsored by Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)—to create a three-year pilot program in up to 15 “high-unemployment communities” to provide jobs with at least a $15 wage.
Bernie Sanders (Vt.) arguably goes further, invoking FDR’s call for a second Bill of Rights and a full jobs guarantee.
If the point is to keep people out of poverty, why not just give people money or provide better social services?
Why not all of the above? A universal basic income is preferred by some, but there’s no need to choose just one policy to answer economic inequality. Jobs advocates argue there is plenty of fulfilling work to be done and that a jobs guarantee would strengthen the bargaining position of workers in the private sector. The Sanders campaign website, for example, suggests childcare, elder care and green infrastructure as areas to emphasize.
Speaking of which, isn’t a jobs guarantee part of the Green New Deal?
That’s right—a Green New Deal could fund millions of jobs to dramatically scale up clean energy production, build and run public transportation, and prepare communities to adapt to the realities of a warming planet. While a jobs guarantee is already popular—52% of Americans support it, according to a poll by Civis Analytics—polling commissioned by the Sunrise Movement indicates that a jobs guarantee focused on green jobs and climate protection is even more popular.
Saving the planet and ending poverty at the same time? Certainly sounds worth a try!
Help In These Times Continue Publishing
Progressive journalism is needed now more than ever, and In These Times needs you.
Like many nonprofits, we expect In These Times to struggle financially as a result of this crisis. But in a moment like this, we can’t afford to scale back or be silent, not when so much is at stake. If it is within your means, please consider making an emergency donation to help fund our coverage during this critical time.
if you like this, check out:
- “People’s Eyes Are Starting To Open”: How Covid-19 Is Driving Support for Medicaid Expansion
- The Church of Latter-Day Socialists
- How an Old-School Electricians Union Got Behind a Socialist Running on the Green New Deal
- New York’s Samelys López Has a Radical Proposal: Poverty Shouldn’t Be a Death Sentence
- Another Political Revolution in New York? Insurgent Jamaal Bowman Now Has Bernie and AOC on His Side