When All Else Has Failed, Why Not Try Job Creation?

The US continues to hemorrhage jobs even as some purport to see “green shoots”. All plausible projections show that unemployment will rise even if our economy begins to grow. Personally, I think those green shoots will die this winter because the stimulus package is far too small and because the financial system is going to crash again. The longer we wait to actually address the unemployment problem, the worse are the prospects for a real recovery.

In his recent piece, Paul Krugman writes:

Just to be clear, I believe that a large enough conventional stimulus would do the trick. But since that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, we need to talk about cheaper alternatives that address the job problem directly. Should we introduce an employment tax credit, like the one proposed by the Economic Policy Institute? Should we introduce the German- style job-sharing subsidy proposed by the Center for Economic Policy Research? Both are worthy of consideration.

The point is that we need to start doing something more than, and different from, what we’re already doing. And the experience of other countries suggests that it’s time for a policy that explicitly and directly targets job creation.

As Krugman reports, Germany has avoided massive job losses by subsidizing firms that retain workers but reduce hours worked. The EPI’s proposal follows a similar strategy. This is fine so far as it goes—in a sense it allows workers, firms, and government to share the burden of reduced output and thus reduced work hours required. That is more equitable but in my view it is not a path toward recovery. While I do agree with Krugman that greater aggregate demand stimulus is required, there is no reason to believe that would provide a sufficient supply of jobs for all who want to work.

The final sentence in the Krugman post makes far more sense: let’s create MORE jobs, MORE work hours, and MORE payroll. A new, New Deal program with a permanent and universal job guarantee that will supply as many jobs as there are job seekers. Not only will this provide jobs in the New Deal style program, but it will also save jobs and increase work hours in the rest of the economy. Why go for second or third best when the best option is available?

Winston Churchill remarked “The Americans will always do the right thing………. after they`ve exhausted all the alternatives”. Direct job creation is the right way to put the economy onto a sustainable path to recovery.

For discussion and ideas on direct job creation and full employment, go here; here; here; and here.

About L. Randall Wray 64 Articles

Affiliation: University of Missouri

L. Randall Wray, Ph.D. is Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Research Director with the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability and Senior Research Scholar at The Levy Economics Institute.

His research expertise is in: financial instability, macroeconomics, and full employment policy.

Visit: L. Randall Wray's Page

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